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Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
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#2296060 - 06/28/14 05:32 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: bkw58
"...feeling the hammer through the key, which today is next to impossible."

Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" via a tech who knows how to properly regulate one. Moreover, such is more likely achievable with a real S&S, not a gutted hybrid. To disembowel a S&S and insert non-S&S technology - well intentioned as it may be - is a mistake.


Dont say anything positive about Steinway it is not in the trend Bob ! (We really can see you are retired there wink )

Yes it is, certainly, only when a number of "details' are put together.

If not, the hammer are too heavy for the action ratio used, yes..

Managing that touch and feel is my first goal.
The action is supposed to be transparent.

Mass is efficient to a certain level to provide tactile return top the pianist, depending of ratio and global compliance. One paramreter cannot be thrown out simply because it is wrong on the paper.

I have a colleague that cut all hammer shanks to match sticks size (rudely, with a cutter at the base of the shank) then voice the hammers to the max, and pretend he gave the "French tone" (I did not say French touch !) to any piano ! )

more lower frequencies, less power, once the voicing is gone nothing can have it back as all resources have been used yet.

Even with strong assist Springs and almost no lead, the way the action is regulated makes a whole difference. The action compliance is more perceived but the effect of the assist spring is too (plus cause repettion noise and dys synchronization) And of course voicing.

We have not so much points where we can influence the touch and feel unfortunatedly, so a piano that is too "massive" for a given pianist body must be setup specifically with lighter hammers etc, while in the meantime giving more acceleration and less "compression" may help.

Modern pianos where intended for unusually too large concert halls int is no surprise they raised the power to the max.

EUropean concert halls are more human sized, and the European pianos may have avoided a part of that race for power.
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#2296063 - 06/28/14 05:52 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Gadzar

So you will see, with your eyes, all the partials and their corresponding different frequencies in action. I hope with this you won't deny their existence anymore.

Enjoy it.





Coool ! THe video is nice but not really "laboratory style"

I wonder if this is not a very short wound string installed without enough tension.

Please the one"s" that show a 2 strings, a 3 strings motions at the bridge or agrafe level ....

I only have seen the ones from the Wapin web site.





Edited by Olek (06/28/14 05:53 AM)
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#2296065 - 06/28/14 06:07 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: bkw58
"...feeling the hammer through the key, which today is next to impossible."

Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" via a tech who knows how to properly regulate one. Moreover, such is more likely achievable with a real S&S, not a gutted hybrid. To disembowel a S&S and insert non-S&S technology - well intentioned as it may be - is a mistake.


Greetings,
This should be another thread but I would challenge you to make a Steinway with original parts as responsive and sensitive as I, and my clientele, are finding is possible with WNG parts. I cannot find any comparison between the two. If you want to play golf, or ski, or play tennis, or snowboard with wooden equipment, understand that your performance will not compare with those that are using carbon fiber. There are no pros in any of these fields that use the original wooden stuff. If you want to build an action out of unstable material for the sake of tradition, understand that when it comes to immediate or long-time performance, you will be left behind. Regulation is no better than the pinning, and the consistency of factory pinning I have seen is nonexistent.

Maybe if they could get control of their pinning, and machining, and consistency, they could compete with the modern materials, but as it is, I think they are trading on their reputation. It is hard to make the case for quality with 88 hammershanks containing various knuckle placements. It is also hard to make the case for pinning that is either floppy or tight, wood that twists and warps, and flanges that constantly move around in response to humidity.
Regards,


Ed, you are visibly talking here of the NY production.

Pinning is precise and long lasting on the Hamburg ones, as is knuckle placement. (the hammer center pin is specific to Steinway, with a central recess that probably avoid the pin to move in the wood) friction is in the 3 grams range.

I agree that synthetic parts can have more size accuracy , The ones are played still are damping a little the sensations, as if a condenser was installed.

Eveness of weight, precision, etc balance that certainly, but the pinning is also problematic, be it with cloth bushing or no.

I agree with you that the way the pinning friction behave with the acceleration of parts is what provide the power transmission (and something in the touch of course)

The pinning friction is I am sure also "perceived" by the pianist, as something helping to get the control on the hammer.

Feeling the compliance of the parts is very important to the pianist, I believe, as a security first, as an expression tool second.

Minute modifications of the finger acceleration allow the pianist to have a good control on the hammer.

If too rigid the knuckle will leave the jack immediately in some type of touch, to be joined again only at letoff moment if the pianist is good enough. THat happen in the front punching generally. SO all cloths (WHippen heel) and assemblies (knuckle) must have their elasticity and resilency under control.

Older pianos had even thicker and smoother levers, providing a larger security zone to the pianist.

Now just a too soft whippen heel cloth is absorbing so much energy immediately that it impede the control on touch.

That left us with primarily the hammer shank the key and the stacks as the main "springs" in the action. ((sorry I forget the hammer felt)

That colleague that made the shanks too supple, gave the pianist a high sensation of control on the hammer, because that springiness is perceived and one can play with it (changing hammer orientation at strike, probably)
That gave him a high reputation, while primarily he destroy the action !

High velocity technique is mostly playing with inertia .

Seem to me that most pianists appreciate that the front of key is not too light for that reason.




Edited by Olek (06/28/14 06:12 AM)
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#2296084 - 06/28/14 08:03 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Olek]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1809
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Olek
Originally Posted By: bkw58
"...feeling the hammer through the key, which today is next to impossible."

Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" via a tech who knows how to properly regulate one. Moreover, such is more likely achievable with a real S&S, not a gutted hybrid. To disembowel a S&S and insert non-S&S technology - well intentioned as it may be - is a mistake.


Don't say anything positive about Steinway it is not in the trend Bob ! (We really can see you are retired there wink )...




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Retired piano technician
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#2296095 - 06/28/14 09:25 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
James Carney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/10
Posts: 440
Loc: new york city
Originally Posted By: A443
...I'm reading through Stanwood's information now.

I guess, I still don't understand how the average of those two measurements has any meaningful significance. One needs to know what the down-weight and upweight measurements are, and indeed the difference between them (i.e, the friction), but why the average?

Perhaps it is just a different way of looking at the same information...unless I am missing something. Is any new information or insight gained from this number, or is this simply the basis of a patentable process?


Using BW (balance weight) rather than just DW (downweight) or UW (upweight) numbers will result in a much more accurate evaluation/analysis/troubleshooting/redesigning of the piano action.

Why? Because in quality pianos with quality parts, the BW numbers will be quite consistent from part to part, and friction (F) can also be measured as an average between DW and UW. The equation for friction is DW - UW /2.

Balance weights (DW + UW / 2) are more accurate to use than downweights or upweights alone, because if two adjacent keys have different friction levels somewhere in the system (which they very often do in real world pianos), the DW and UW numbers could be radically different from one note to the next. Additionally, friction levels can be expected to vary - sometimes quite wildly - in the future. So, let's say one note is at 53g DW. The adjacent note is at 48g DW. Their upweights will also be different, but the balance weight will likely be the same. This BW is crucial information to know, because if you then measure for friction - and come up with different friction readings on both keys - you will have a much greater understanding of why any discrepancy exists, and what to do to make the DW and UW on those adjacent keys more uniform. (Solve the friction issue in this case.)

If you didn't know these BW and F readings (and what they mean) you could easily make the wrong decisions, like adding lead to a key instead of reducing friction somewhere in the system. And these "wrong" decisions are often made at the piano factory or the rebuilder's shop, if measurements are not taken and analyzed to account for friction when installing lead in keys, or if new hammers are not measured and their weights adjusted prior to installation.
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#2296098 - 06/28/14 09:45 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: James Carney]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: James Carney
Originally Posted By: A443
...I'm reading through Stanwood's information now.

I guess, I still don't understand how the average of those two measurements has any meaningful significance. One needs to know what the down-weight and upweight measurements are, and indeed the difference between them (i.e, the friction), but why the average?

Perhaps it is just a different way of looking at the same information...unless I am missing something. Is any new information or insight gained from this number, or is this simply the basis of a patentable process?


Using BW (balance weight) rather than just DW (downweight) or UW (upweight) numbers will result in a much more accurate evaluation/analysis/troubleshooting/redesigning of the piano action.

Why? Because in quality pianos with quality parts, the BW numbers will be quite consistent from part to part, and friction (F) can also be measured as an average between DW and UW. The equation for friction is DW - UW /2.

Balance weights (DW + UW / 2) are more accurate to use than downweights or upweights alone, because if two adjacent keys have different friction levels somewhere in the system (which they very often do in real world pianos), the DW and UW numbers could be radically different from one note to the next. Additionally, friction levels can be expected to vary - sometimes quite wildly - in the future. So, let's say one note is at 53g DW. The adjacent note is at 48g DW. Their upweights will also be different, but the balance weight will likely be the same. This BW is crucial information to know, because if you then measure for friction - and come up with different friction readings on both keys - you will have a much greater understanding of why any discrepancy exists, and what to do to make the DW and UW on those adjacent keys more uniform. (Solve the friction issue in this case.)

If you didn't know these BW and F readings (and what they mean) you could easily make the wrong decisions, like adding lead to a key instead of reducing friction somewhere in the system. And these "wrong" decisions are often made at the piano factory or the rebuilder's shop, if measurements are not taken and analyzed to account for friction when installing lead in keys, or if new hammers are not measured and their weights adjusted prior to installation.


<good points ! but modern quality hammers have not much weight unevenesses, and also the weighting of hammers does not take in account the shaping so some pinch of salt can be added.


BW is anyway a good number to show discrepancies.

It does show also a knuckle that is not lining with neighbors, this can be a cause of ratio change. by raising UW for instance. Not anything goes with the hammer mass and friction.
Rake angle variations, as often necessary, may change the apparent action ratio somehow, too.

When weighting often , the technician is used to look at the motion of the hammer and detect is something is wrong just then, along with a "minimal upweight" used always at the same location.

DW is never used alone, while most small "mistakes" are pushed under the carpet of UW, I agree.

This is obviously faster than measuring all weights and that is why factory may focus on the weight of parts without measuring them on a one by one basis.

A progressive placement of leads in the keys also is a good thing, I would take example there on Yamaha or Steinway, Yamaha with a simple progressive placement (so the keys have their own inertia balancing done)
Following simple rules to choose and place the leads is neat (without giving them more attention than neeeded)

Eventually I do that, then see if I have any hops and look for the cause.
Factory bypass small geometric or hammer weight mismatches , for sure. Evening impact mass is a luxury, but I do not find that an absolute necessity to provide an even touch.

Overpassing friction defects is a huge mistake indeed, an that I avoid at any price.

I focus on vertical masses lining, consistency in shanks stiffness (progression +-) and consistency in lead placement.
If that last is not possible the cause have to be find.

BW is a good tool for that. (while I agree it can have no significance if used alone)


Regards


Edited by Olek (06/28/14 09:52 AM)
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#2296100 - 06/28/14 09:54 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Olek]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1228
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Olek

Ed, you are visibly talking here of the NY production.
Pinning is precise and long lasting on the Hamburg ones, as is knuckle placement. (the hammer center pin is specific to Steinway, with a central recess that probably avoid the pin to move in the wood) friction is in the 3 grams range.
I agree that synthetic parts can have more size accuracy , The ones are played still are damping a little the sensations, as if a condenser was installed.
Eveness of weight, precision, etc balance that certainly, but the pinning is also problematic, be it with cloth bushing or no.
Feeling the compliance of the parts is very important to the pianist, I believe, as a security first, as an expression tool second.


Greetings,
Above is snipped:

The problem of pinning is not unique to any brand, I have had to stop using Renner parts because of the common tightening of the pinning as the parts are in service. It only takes one or two stiffening jack pinnings to require a concert piano to be disassembled and repinned.

The center pins I have seen that have a groove cut in the middle are all on Renner parts.

Inre compliance: The hard bushings remove a lot of compliance, while maintaining solid control with very little friction in the hammer flanges. If you were to pin a cloth bushing firmly enough to match the control of the hard bushings, it would be so tight you couldn't play it. I have had 4 of these actions in school practice rooms, played 8-12 hours a day by students at FFF levels. There is not a single shank that needs to be repinned. This does happen with cloth bushings. I do go through the set with the WNG swing jig before I install, and I do end up repining 5 or 8 each time because of irregularity. Once properly pinned, they do not change with use.

I maintain that compliance is required in an action for the pianist's comfort, but there are good places for it,(key-flex and hammershank), and bad places, (hammershank pinning). The idea of wooden shanks providing resources to the pianist via their flex is misinformed. If all the wooden shanks flexed the same, it would be acceptable, but that doesn't happen. And even if did, when the humidity changes, the wood will change, and it is not even plausible that all 88 would change the same. Composite shanks avoid all of that. I have also yet to find a pianist that can tell anything about the WNG actions I have put into service other that it is more even than they are accustomed to. Questions of tonal changes are moot until the same set of hammers is taken off the WNG action and reinstalled on the same action with wooden ones. Otherwise, differences in sets of hammers are far greater than the differences of tone that can be ascribed to the material in the shank.

I would offer that what pianists need in the action is not compliance, which is uncontrollable with wood, but, rather, damping, which can be controlled by pinning. And that damping is more important in the repetition pinning than anywhere else. This is because it allows stronger pressure on the jack and more consistent spring tension across the action. With strong springs and 7 gram pinning on the repetition, the repetition speed goes up, consistency is easier to maintain, and jacks will reliably reset with slightly more contact pressure on the knuckle.

I will say it once again, a regulation will be no better than the pinning, and I haven't found anything that is as consistent as the WNG parts.
Regards,

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#2296111 - 06/28/14 10:29 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Del]
Weiyan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 770
Loc: Hong Kong
Originally Posted By: Del
[quote=A443]OK, so you are saying that compliance = action saturation? If so,

Again getting back to the original question—it is generally a good practice to have the back of the keys weighted enough such that the back end of each key will rest lightly against the back rail felt without depending on the weight of the wippen to push them down. This is normally done by adding one or more lead weights to the back of the keys. It could also be done by making the front of the key lighter—per Ed’s suggestion—but I’ve never seen this in production. It is also good practice to have the hammer’s center of gravity forward (i.e., toward the front of the keys) of the hammer butt action centers. If anything is to be weighted it should be—but never is—the wippen lever itself.

Since the vertical action is dependent on both a spring return (the hammer butt spring) and gravity (the hammer butt, the wippen and, to a lesser extent, the hammer if the action installation geometry is done well) its repetition speed and reliability will be dependent on how well the individual piano maker blends all of these different elements of the action together in the final product.

ddf


For new China pianos, some keys not sit on the felt. Some models' black key have lead in in front of balance pin hole. There also a German upright with short key stick without any lead. I am not sure if these are design purpose, or just randomly assembled parts.

Having followed this thread and another in teachres' forum, key weight is related to action geometry and play style. Not simple decision and not easy to explain to customer. Better left this part untouched.
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#2296115 - 06/28/14 10:35 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Let me suggest modestly it is because you "don't know " how to deal with stiffened Renner centers.
They do not need to be dismounted, the cloth have been burnished and compressed, they will need a little more compression eventually.
I accept that the friction change with moisture however.

The wooden shanks are selected prior installation (something I have seen dismissed by some techs here) t-hen once the hammer is glued they are also adjusted by scraping.
This I suppose take care of the amount of resiliency of the shanks, and indeed once the "tone" of the assembly is evened there is a sudden more homogenous impact tone.

I know regulation is easy with the WNG parts, Now as generally with aluminium rails stacks there is some material signature in the tone.
I have no idea of the linearity of the answer of composite shanks vs wooden ones, but I think that is where the difference is.

Certainly if the action is stable that is a good solution for studio and students pianos. Good for you if you have such good results.

Regards
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#2296142 - 06/28/14 11:52 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2324
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Ah Ed, Like you I have found studying pianos by examining the "dampening" characteristics very productive to producing service protocols that predictably produce a great musical instrument. A fine piano is a study in damping.

I have never found shank flex to be a helpful behavior regarding tone, touch and durability.

Even regarding key weights you can look at their effect on damping the rate with which an action can stop, start and change directions of movement.

The angular momentum issues are "pivotal", (pun intended), to how a pianist perceives the action response.

My work has shown there is no doubt that static touch weight measurements do not indicate how an action will play or sound. These measurements are only good for assessing some level of evenness across the compass, but even that characteristic is limited in resolution.

As you lower the sum total inertia in an action by removing mass-it is at the hammer that this is very, very critical.

Now on the question of static touch weight levels. I have found that as you reduce the hammer mass you can increase the static touch weight. In my rebuilding work I often have pianists audition some of my pianos to give me feedback on which range of touch resistance they prefer.

Then when I tone regulate the action I set the static touch weight at the high end of what I think they like. Then I am prepared to reduce the touch weight further if they so require after playing the piano for a few days or weeks. I inform them that all pianos get lighter and brighter with use and that it is easier to make an action lighter than heavier once it has been assembled.

The result is such that many of my actions have DW of 70 grams at note 1 and taper to 55 grams at note 88, and most of the keys from 68-88 have one back weight. Keys from 50-68 have no front weights, and keys from 1 to 30 never have more than two front weights.

I have done some actions with no front weights for some pianists. static touch weights there are 75 grams at note 1 with these actions.

I have also had technicians play these actions and ask them to slowly move some of the lowest and middle range keys and just make a guess at the static touch weight. They invariable underestimate the weight by 10 to 15 grams! These have been technicians who do much tone regulation and are experienced at touch weight measurement.

My LightHammer Tone Regulation procedure is a way to develop tone and touch together. There have been many detailed and careful analysis's done of touch characteristics but they invariably leave out tone. TONE, just another" four letter word"!


Edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT (06/28/14 11:54 AM)
Edit Reason: typo and word use
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#2296186 - 06/28/14 02:09 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
you can get a nice tone as with older grands that had more supple hammer shanks, lighter hammers, etc,

Forget about thunderous tone with the actual strings and soundboards in that case.
_________________________
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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#2296228 - 06/28/14 04:15 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Mark R.]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1548
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
You make use of the argument that all objects are accelerated equally by gravity. While this is true for objects in friction-less free fall, it does not apply to more or less balanced levers. Free fall would be applicable to a keystick only if the keystick consisted of just the distal part (and nothing in front of the balance rail pin). Then, indeed, gravity wouldn't care how light or heavy that keystick is. And yes, your subsequent argumentation would then also hold true: that the repetition spring would accelerate a lighter keystick more strongly, because it has less mass/inertia than a heavier one. Such a rear-half keystick would therefore return faster if one decreased its mass. One might word this as you did: "gravity is fast, but not as fast as a spring."

But your argumentation seems to overlook that the keystick has a proximal part. This means that the acceleration of the distal lever arm, under gravity, is not determined by free fall, but by the distribution of mass between the proximal and distal lever arms. In fact, if the proximal and distal lever arms are balanced, the distal part won't fall under gravity at all! Once you start adding mass to the distal part, it will fall, and the more mass you add, the faster it will accelerate. The higher the ratio between distal mass and proximal mass becomes, the closer the acceleration of the distal arm will approach g (9.8 m/s²), i.e. "free fall".

Looking at the effect of the rep. spring vs. total keystick mass: if you compare a perfectly balanced heavy keystick (both ends have identical, high mass) to a perfectly balanced light keystick (both ends have identical but low mass), then I do agree that the repetition spring will accelerate the lighter keystick more, because it has less inertia.

But in a real piano, the keystick is out of balance, hence the acceleration of the distal end is related to two factors:
1) the ratio between distal and proximal mass
2) the ratio between the rep. spring force and the inertia of the keystick.

Adding mass to the distal end of the keystick increases ratio (1), aiding repetition, but decreases ratio (2), hindering repetition. Which of the two opposing effects will win out, I cannot say. Your experience seems to point to effect (2), while that of A443 (if I read him correctly) seems to point to effect (1).

I gladly stand corrected, but to my best understanding, this is a more realistic picture of the physics surrounding the keystick.
Thanks Mark R. for taking the time to think this through!!!

Indeed, the keystick on the piano is the fat kid on the playground's seesaw. Gravity is in fact discriminatory in terms of a lever and speed: the skinny kid on the other end gets accelerated with significant speed and gets held up in the air...if the fat kid were to get off their end, the skinny kid would come crashing down even faster than they went up! Two kids of equal weight and balanced weight are not as much fun, as far as lever speeds are concerned.
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#2296581 - 06/29/14 01:51 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1723
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT


My experience with performing pianists is the return of the key is KEY to their perception of control. They do want the key to return as fast as they can raise their fingers. The repetition springs have very little to do with this sensation. Think about the ergonometrics of virtuoso performance, they are moving their hands rapidly across the compass playing many simultaneous groups of notes in rapid succession, when the keys return with their finger release they avoid having to use energy to lift the fingers.



Yes, I fully agree--many people think that high up-weight is tiring, but my experience tells me the opposite. Once a key is down the pianist has his finger or hand or forearm weight holding it down--that takes no strength, but lifting the finger/hand does take some force, and the up-weight helps alleviate some of it. Therefore, it also can help prevent extensor tendonitis.

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#2296584 - 06/29/14 02:00 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Roy123]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1548
+1.

Pianists know how to use that extra 'energy' in the upweight to their advantage to balance themselves and propel themselves forward in the music.
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#2296585 - 06/29/14 02:01 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: DoelKees]
Roy123 Offline
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Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1723
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Originally Posted By: Gene Nelson

I add weight to the hammer to increase the force at the string of the hammer.
As I and Ed stated - F=MA so that a starting energy accelerates a hammer to some value giving a force at the string. The same starting energy accelerates a slightly more massive hammer to a slightly slower value giving the same force at the string - all things being equal.

I think you are confusing "force" and "energy". The hammer doesn't really apply any specific "force" to the string, it applies an "impulse". An impulse is a time varying force over a short duration.

Assuming the same force on the key, and the key dip is D, then the energy transferred to the hammer is FD. The kinetic energy of the hammer is .5MV^2 so the strike velocity V is sqrt(2FD/M).

When the hammer, moving at speed V, hits the string it is rapidly decelerated, stops, then accelerating by the string in the opposite direction until the contact is broken. During this process the force on the string looks somewhat like 1/2 period of a cosine, and the total duration of the contact event is proportional to sqrt(M).

So a lighter hammer (smaller M)results in a shorter impact event, which results in more high frequency content, and vice versa.

Of course reality is more complex, but this is the basic physics.

Kees


Thanks--this discussion needed that. If I may emphasize a point, given the assumption that the pianist applies the same force to the key irrespective of the hammer mass and action ratio, then the result is the same energy applied to the string--hammer mass doesn't matter. Of course, my original assumption that a pianist's finger supplies equal force in both cases may not be strictly true, because the lighter hammer would require quicker finger movement.

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#2296590 - 06/29/14 02:13 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Roy123]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1548
Originally Posted By: Roy123
If I may emphasize a point, given the assumption that the pianist applies the same force to the key irrespective of the hammer mass and action ratio, then the result is the same energy applied to the string--hammer mass doesn't matter. Of course, my original assumption that a pianist's finger supplies equal force in both cases may not be strictly true, because the lighter hammer would require quicker finger movement.
Your misunderstand of the piano system is a common one. Just like you can't throw a 100lb weight and a 1lbs weight with equal speed against the wall--to make an equally loud impact sound, neither can the piano's action propel unlimited amount of weight at the same speed towards the strings. The piano's action geometry has limits: if you want to understand the system, you must understand where those limits are--anything over c.5g strike weight starts to have consequences on the maximum potential speed of the hammer.

If you don't believe that, then test it out for yourself: take a hammer from the descant section, flatten it out, voice it down, and install it in the tenor section. You will immediately get 'more' energy out of the string with the same 'energy' you put into the key.

What is actually happening: the reduction in hammer weight allows the action to function as intended and the key now accelerates the hammer to faster impact speeds.
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#2296597 - 06/29/14 02:27 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2324
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
To add to Kees excellent description of hammer strike-there is gravity acting to return the grand hammer to rest. When playing a grand PPP, gravity is the dominant return force. In a piano with heavy hammers, the hammer inertia slows the gravity return enough to create problems with soft playing. Especially with verticals. Not much gravity return on most verticals. That is why some bobble on soft playing. No gravity return.
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#2296600 - 06/29/14 02:35 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Roy123]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2324
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Yes, ROY 123, the held down piano key is held down by the arms at rest. And with low inertia the key is able to lift the finger without the pianist expending energy- then when they strike they can use less time to impart the desired hammer velocity.

Much more relaxed ergonometrics. Much more durability. Much more projection of melodic intent. All this comes from lighter, softer hammers coupled with very low amounts of key counterweights. I call them LightHammer Pianos!
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#2296654 - 06/29/14 04:55 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Roy123 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1723
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: A443
Originally Posted By: Roy123
If I may emphasize a point, given the assumption that the pianist applies the same force to the key irrespective of the hammer mass and action ratio, then the result is the same energy applied to the string--hammer mass doesn't matter. Of course, my original assumption that a pianist's finger supplies equal force in both cases may not be strictly true, because the lighter hammer would require quicker finger movement.
Your misunderstand of the piano system is a common one. Just like you can't throw a 100lb weight and a 1lbs weight with equal speed against the wall--to make an equally loud impact sound, neither can the piano's action propel unlimited amount of weight at the same speed towards the strings. The piano's action geometry has limits: if you want to understand the system, you must understand where those limits are--anything over c.5g strike weight starts to have consequences on the maximum potential speed of the hammer.

If you don't believe that, then test it out for yourself: take a hammer from the descant section, flatten it out, voice it down, and install it in the tenor section. You will immediately get 'more' energy out of the string with the same 'energy' you put into the key.

What is actually happening: the reduction in hammer weight allows the action to function as intended and the key now accelerates the hammer to faster impact speeds.


There is no misunderstanding of this issue on my part, and I qualified my earlier statement, as I should have. Your example is not appropriate. As Del pointed out earlier, hammer weights do not vary very much between different pianos. Additionally, in most pianos, the difference in mass between the bass hammers and the treble hammers is, in general, larger than the difference in mass between different pianos. So, if the piano action can function correctly at both the bass end and treble end of the compass, where the hammer-mass ratio may well be around 3:1, how can you possibly say a piano with hammers, perhaps 50% heavier than another piano, cannot function within the general design parameters of the typical piano action?

I think by far the more important consideration is that the weight and resilience of the hammer be appropriate for its ability to get the desired tone out of the string(s) it is striking. The length of time the hammer spends in contact with the string is surely one of the most important parameters in this regard. Harder and lighter hammers will bounce of the strings more quickly than softer and heavier hammers. If you take a hammer from one note in a piano and place it in a far different spot, the hammer will no longer have the combination of resilience and mass to bounce off the string in the time it should, and therefore will not properly excite the string. It is considerations such as this, rather than the sheer mass of the hammer that is most important.

I would also say that the biggest problem with heavy hammers is that of action feel. The increased moment of inertia will make the action feel heavy, especially when playing loudly, and the only fixes for that are either a lower action ratio, requiring an overly deep key dip, or a smaller hammer travel, resulting in less power. Therefore, hammer mass becomes largely an issue of what is optimal for interfacing to the human being playing the piano. Ed McMorrow also touts the lower action wear from light hammers, which seems axiomatic, other things being equal.

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#2296657 - 06/29/14 05:02 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Roy123]
Roy123 Offline
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Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 1723
Loc: Massachusetts
I would also like to reiterate a point, previously made by another poster (this thread has gotten too long for me to check who). I believe that moment of inertia is more important than static down-weight in terms of action feel. I once played a Schimmel upright that felt quite nice, or, at least, not unusual in its action feel. I subsequently measured it down-weight, and it was about 75 grams in the octave below middle C. I was quite surprised and considered the experience a learning moment.

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#2296678 - 06/29/14 06:19 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19575
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Weiyan
Its general thought the heavier the key, the better touch in my city. People believe expensive piano should have heavier key. Imported German piano, grand piano, all added lead in warehouse. For dirty old Yamaha, adding weight to make faster repetition. Music teacher suggest student to add weight to make finger stronger.

What's consideration of adding weight? What recommendation should give to customer?
I very strongly think that both very heavy and very light actions are problematic and very difficult to play on. Too heavy and the piano is tiring or even impossible to play in demanding passages; too light and the piano can be difficult to control. The middle ground is far preferable for almost all pianists.

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#2296748 - 06/29/14 09:53 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2324
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
ROY123,
I too find the moment of inertia to be the dominant factor in determining the "feel" of a grand action. However I think Del's statement that hammer weights don't vary much between pianos is wrong.

From a pianist's perspective hammer weights vary a lot from piano to piano. And this is the predominant reason they play so differently.
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#2296809 - 06/30/14 02:13 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5317
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
ROY123,
I too find the moment of inertia to be the dominant factor in determining the "feel" of a grand action. However I think Del's statement that hammer weights don't vary much between pianos is wrong.

In what way?

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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#2296931 - 06/30/14 11:11 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2324
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Hi Del,
The first way is by weighing the hammers on a scale. The second way is by comparing the leverage in the action with the key leading and the static touch weight.

Rick Voit and John Rhodes have also made similar findings regarding the dominance hammer weight plays in total inertia and action feel. Because of the ranges of acceleration employed by pianists and the leverage distribution in the action train-the hammer weight is the dominant factor. 1 gram change in a hammer is readily noticed by pianists. And you can find a total range of closer to 3 grams difference per hammer from different pianos. By this I mean a hammer #1 on piano X is 3 grams heavier than hammer #1 on piano Z.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2296967 - 06/30/14 01:10 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: pianoloverus]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 372
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Weiyan
Its general thought the heavier the key, the better touch in my city. People believe expensive piano should have heavier key. Imported German piano, grand piano, all added lead in warehouse. For dirty old Yamaha, adding weight to make faster repetition. Music teacher suggest student to add weight to make finger stronger.

What's consideration of adding weight? What recommendation should give to customer?
I very strongly think that both very heavy and very light actions are problematic and very difficult to play on. Too heavy and the piano is tiring or even impossible to play in demanding passages; too light and the piano can be difficult to control. The middle ground is far preferable for almost all pianists.


What would you consider to be to heavy, light & middle ground in relation to g/touch weight?
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#2296988 - 06/30/14 02:40 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5317
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Hi Del,
The first way is by weighing the hammers on a scale.

How would you prefer to weigh them?


Quote:
The second way is by comparing the leverage in the action with the key leading and the static touch weight.

Rick Voit and John Rhodes have also made similar findings regarding the dominance hammer weight plays in total inertia and action feel. Because of the ranges of acceleration employed by pianists and the leverage distribution in the action train-the hammer weight is the dominant factor. 1 gram change in a hammer is readily noticed by pianists.

What, in the piece that I wrote, are you referring to? I just read back through the whole thing and I can’t find anything that compares the leverage of the action with either key leading or with static touch weight.

Given how the hammer and hammer butt assembly is balanced in a vertical action (at rest) even relatively large variations in hammer mass have little effect on static touchweight. These same variations will have a significant effect on dynamic touchweight.


Quote:
And you can find a total range of closer to 3 grams difference per hammer from different pianos. By this I mean a hammer #1 on piano X is 3 grams heavier than hammer #1 on piano Z.

Hmm. I think that’s what I said. I compared a “light” A-1 hammer of 8 – 9 grams with a “heavy” hammer of 11 – 12 grams. That’s a range of 3 grams between a light hammer and a heavy hammer at the lowest A. A little more if you take the extremes. I gave a range of 1.5 grams at C-88 which is about the range I’ve weighed in vertical hammers coming out of the press. That might also be a little on the low side; for a while there hammer makers were pressing hammers with pretty thick moldings and were leaving quite a lot of very dense felt on them up in the treble.

In a production piano I don’t recall finding any A-1 hammers weighing less than 8 grams. Not even in the smallest spinets of some decades back. If my numbers are off it be on the high side; there may well be some production hammers heavier than 12 grams out there, but for the most part they seem to top out about there. At least nowadays; I recall one pianomaker some years back bragging about their “28-pound” concert grand hammers. I have no idea what that meant. I’ve also pulled a few hammers off of rebuilt actions that had been weighted with brass or lead plugs but in context those don’t count; they are not production pianos.

The point I was making is that the difference between real-world light hammers and heavy hammers is not a 1:20 ratio; it is more subtle than that. In the work I’ve been doing lately, that subtlety can be problematic. The difference between a 10 gram hammer and an 11 gram hammer simply doesn’t feel all that great in the hands of the action department manager. He picks up one bass hammer out of this set and compares it with a bass hammer out of that set. The difference, in his hand, does not seem all that great. Evan a difference of two or three grams doesn’t feel all that great in the hand.

I am quite aware that a difference of 1 gram hammer weight makes a significant difference in how the piano action feels. It is a point I have made repeatedly in my seminars and in my posts to this forum. But I have also been living and working in a very real and sometimes very frustrating world. Things don’t always go as planned.

Recently I spent countless hours trying to convince a company’s management that 150 cm to 175 cm grands do not need 11.5 – 12 gram hammers. I then spent more time drafting new key and action geometry designed to function well with 9.5 –10 gram hammers. When the complaints started pouring in about how heavy the new actions felt I found that somebody—in marketing? production? wherever—decided they really needed those heavy hammers because they thought their competition used heavy hammers. So sometime after the changes were made to the keys and action a decision was made to go back to the heavier hammers. After all, the difference between the two hammers didn’t feel all that great in the hand so what could be the harm? Out on the factory floor, of course, the static touchweight ended up rather high so the workers were adding extra leads to the keys “to get the right downweight.” Dynamic touch weight? What dynamic touch weight. When the actions were fitted with the correct hammers the pianos both played and sounded much better but no one in a position of authority had actually tried them.

It would be a lot easier if the ratio was 1:20. Even a marketing guy could feel a difference that great! (I think.)

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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#2300759 - 07/10/14 02:38 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1809
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: bkw58
"...feeling the hammer through the key, which today is next to impossible."

Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" via a tech who knows how to properly regulate one. Moreover, such is more likely achievable with a real S&S, not a gutted hybrid. To disembowel a S&S and insert non-S&S technology
- well intentioned as it may be - is a mistake.


Greetings,
This should be another thread but I would challenge you to make a Steinway with original parts as responsive and sensitive as I, and my clientele, are finding is possible with WNG parts. I cannot find any comparison between the two. If you want to play golf, or ski, or play tennis, or snowboard with wooden equipment, understand that your performance will not compare with those that are using carbon fiber. There are no pros in any of these fields that use the original wooden stuff. If you want to build an action out of unstable material for the sake of tradition, understand that when it comes to immediate or long-time performance, you will be left behind. Regulation is no better than the pinning, and the consistency of factory pinning I have seen is nonexistent.

Maybe if they could get control of their pinning, and machining, and consistency, they could compete with the modern materials, but as it is, I think they are trading on their reputation. It is hard to make the case for quality with 88 hammershanks containing various knuckle placements. It is also hard to make the case for pinning that is either floppy or tight, wood that twists and warps, and flanges that constantly move around in response to humidity.
Regards,


Hi Ed. I missed this post earlier. I do not doubt that everything you do for your clients is as you say and that they are happy with the results you achieve for them. My remarks were specific to "...feeling the hammer through the key, which today," as someone earlier asserted, "is next to impossible." Notwithstanding this problem or that, any particular year or model, Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" by a tech who knows how to properly regulate one. (Not that there is only one way to regulate these given the changing variables through the years.) It is my experience that such - again, feeling the hammer through the key - is more likely achievable with a 100% S&S, as opposed to a S&S hybrid. This is one reason why to disembowel a S&S and insert non-S&S technology - well intentioned as it may be - is a mistake. Another reason is wholly related to investment. Not a few investment-minded pianists have resale value in view from the outset. To them, a 100% Steinway (however the maker elects to define it at any given time - its exclusive prerogative) is a more sound investment than a S&S hybrid. In a few years I'll be gone. The Steinway name, history and how it defines its own instruments will transcend my name and any and all pianos that I rebuilt.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2300793 - 07/10/14 04:01 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1228
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: bkw58


Hi Ed. I missed this post earlier. I do not doubt that everything you do for your clients is as you say and that they are happy with the results you achieve for them. My remarks were specific to "...feeling the hammer through the key, which today," as someone earlier asserted, "is next to impossible." Notwithstanding this problem or that, any particular year or model, Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" by a tech who knows how to properly regulate one.


Greetings,
That is a very nebulous, and undefinable criteria you are using. Would this feel exist if a Steinway action were put into another piano? I don't know what " feeling the hammer through the key" is actually referring to, I have never heard a customer use the term. However, I doubt that there are many significantly different ways to regulate one of these pianos than the uncountable ones I have tried over the years. If your position is that a nylon whippen destroys something in the touch that you can feel, I would have to see it demonstrated,as I have not had that experience with my use of the WNG parts.

If you are making the case that avoiding this ultra-subtle difference in feel caused by the use of carbon fiber shanks is worth putting up with wild pinning, and the accompanying compromised regulation, then we will have to disagree. Further, what any one shank feels like is going to vary from its neighbor, regardless of untold hours tapping and shaping. I would suspect that the particular flex, if not the "tone" of the shank would be affected by humidity, since most things wooden are. I consider these liabilities.
Regards,

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#2300821 - 07/10/14 05:01 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1809
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: bkw58


Hi Ed. I missed this post earlier. I do not doubt that everything you do for your clients is as you say and that they are happy with the results you achieve for them. My remarks were specific to "...feeling the hammer through the key, which today," as someone earlier asserted, "is next to impossible." Notwithstanding this problem or that, any particular year or model, Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" by a tech who knows how to properly regulate one.


Greetings,
That is a very nebulous, and undefinable criteria you are using. Would this feel exist if a Steinway action were put into another piano? I don't know what " feeling the hammer through the key" is actually referring to, I have never heard a customer use the term. However, I doubt that there are many significantly different ways to regulate one of these pianos than the uncountable ones I have tried over the years. If your position is that a nylon whippen destroys something in the touch that you can feel, I would have to see it demonstrated,as I have not had that experience with my use of the WNG parts.

If you are making the case that avoiding this ultra-subtle difference in feel caused by the use of carbon fiber shanks is worth putting up with wild pinning, and the accompanying compromised regulation, then we will have to disagree. Further, what any one shank feels like is going to vary from its neighbor, regardless of untold hours tapping and shaping. I would suspect that the particular flex, if not the "tone" of the shank would be affected by humidity, since most things wooden are. I consider these liabilities.
Regards,


Thanks, Ed. The phrase was mentioned earlier in the thread:

Originally Posted By: acortot

...
Early piano technique, as used by the composers of the classical repertoire, required a light action and focus was on feeling the hammer through the key, which today is next to impossible.


It has also been expressed as "feeling the strings through the keys" - "a pleasant sensation as though the piano was connecting with me." This is how I've always characterized the S&S touch when all is working well.

Even with the "heavy" S&S action (as it is styled by some), my point was that this "connection" was still doable with appropriate regulation. Again, one reason why I question the need for non-S&S parts.

I will concede to a point. It is possible that I've grown so old and inflexible that nothing new will do. (Might one of these rebuilt S&S be in or near the Montgomery Bell St Pk area? If so, PM please.)

Thanks again, Ed.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2300826 - 07/10/14 05:11 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1548
Originally Posted By: bkw58
My remarks were specific to "...feeling the hammer through the key, which today," as someone earlier asserted, "is next to impossible." Notwithstanding this problem or that, any particular year or model, Steinway is still one of the very few grand pianos capable of "feeling the hammer through the key" by a tech who knows how to properly regulate one. (Not that there is only one way to regulate these given the changing variables through the years.) It is my experience that such - again, feeling the hammer through the key - is more likely achievable with a 100% S&S, as opposed to a S&S hybrid. This is one reason why to disembowel a S&S and insert non-S&S technology - well intentioned as it may be - is a mistake. Another reason is wholly related to investment. Not a few investment-minded pianists have resale value in view from the outset. To them, a 100% Steinway (however the maker elects to define it at any given time - its exclusive prerogative) is a more sound investment than a S&S hybrid. In a few years I'll be gone. The Steinway name, history and how it defines its own instruments will transcend my name and any and all pianos that I rebuilt.
With all due respect bkw58, with mystically-hyped statements like these--without any thought or reason--it is probably a good thing that you are retired. The fact that you would speak out so fervently against something without your own comparative analysis/experience is really sad; age is no excuse for a lack of experience.
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