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#2294741 - 06/25/14 09:51 AM Why and why not adding lead weight to key
Weiyan Offline
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Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 769
Loc: Hong Kong
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?
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#2294762 - 06/25/14 10:46 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Miguel Rey Offline
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Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 348
I always thought German pianos had lighter actions
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#2294765 - 06/25/14 10:57 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
SMHaley Online   content
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Registered: 05/06/13
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Loc: Seattle
Comparatively it has been said that US made pianos had a light touch, and European pianos a little heavier. The thing is the weighing of the key only should be to offset and balance the weight of action/hammer. The resulting response and feel is a matter of leverage ratios and how tight the pinning of action centers is. Touch weight metrology looks at the various weight measurements (up weight, down weight) and attempts to determine friction. A piano that has been well regulated and touch weight analyzed and adjusted to make as even a curve as possible up the scale is a marvelous thing to play. Strangely enough even some of the bigger name piano makers don't spend as much time as one might think getting the playability and touch dialed in.
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#2294782 - 06/25/14 11:29 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Weiyan Offline
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Posts: 769
Loc: Hong Kong
SMHaley:

Making even curve is marvelous. Then weights different for black key and white key?

For weight analyze, the down weight and up weight only measure static force. Actual playing is dynamic. Hitting the key with higher velocity, the higher reaction force. The point touch the key also affect weight. EG, playing A flat major chord is a lot heavier than C maj. chord. What's best method for weight analyze?

My experience is mainly from upright piano.
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#2294802 - 06/25/14 12:14 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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IMHO, this is complete and utter nonsense--I place the original blame directly with S&S. There was a period of time where they increased hammer weight so dramatically, and in turn needed to balance out that weight with extra mass by installing crazy amount of leads into the keys, that the pianos became impossibly heavy and difficult to deal with. Pianists got used to this heaviness, piano technique was modified to fit the approach, and other companies followed-the-leader. They have since backed off of the excessive hammer weight, but since pianists became accustomed to that kind of feel, it is difficult to go all the way back to the way that it is supposed to be.

A pianist should NEVER have to fight with a keyboard; a keyboard should work for and with the pianist.

FYI, there are three kinds of heaviness in the keyboard: 1) leverage weight (i.e., the weight of the hammer at the end of the lever--this weight is more or less consistent through the key stroke), 2) moments of inertia (i.e., the leads in the key and the weight of the parts--this weigh is felt more with faster accelerations of the keystroke), and 3) balance weight (i.e., the amount the entire keyboard is set out of balance--higher amounts of out-of-balance helps with repetition, but the starting weight of the key movement feels proportionally higher). Friction in the system is a 4th perception of weight, as is the weight of the dampers (5th), but these have other important functions, so they should be last to be toyed around with.

With that said, it is not a matter of simply adding key weight; the perception of weight for a pianist is complex system that need to be properly balanced as a whole.
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#2294806 - 06/25/14 12:20 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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SMHaley, US pianos are know for being heavy and European for being comparatively light--you have it completely backwards. It is also why the OP mentioned that in their part of the world weight is usually added to make the European pianos heavier. They are, presumably, adding weight to the back of the keys, which would make the entire system heavier [in terms of starting force] and also increase repetition (i.e., since the system is more out-of-balance).
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#2294834 - 06/25/14 01:32 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Ed Foote Offline
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Posts: 1186
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: A443
They are, presumably, adding weight to the back of the keys, which would make the entire system heavier [in terms of starting force] and also increase repetition (i.e., since the system is more out-of-balance).


Greetings,

If adding weight to the back of the key increases repetition speed, there is something dramatically wrong with the action. Repetition speed is determined by how fast the jack resets, which is dependent on how far the key has to move up, and how fast it moves. The speed of the key's return is more dependent on the spring strength than anything else, and the amount of weight required to appreciably change that would make the piano unplayable.
Regards,

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#2294875 - 06/25/14 02:40 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
A443,high inertia keys have 2advantages :

Stronger tone

Strongest power sensation


Easier rebound of the key.

So unless the leading is really extreme, it can be managed, of course reducing the nuances possible.

I happen to add lead to reinforce the tone (the power of the catapult)

Not that I would do so on a fine piano (plus there is more effort on the balance hole) but as well on a tired soundboard where it gives a "permanent power" sensation, as on a small grand where the basses where "evened" in power with the rest.

If is easy to experiment with screwed leads under the keys.

Surprised the first time I have seen that overloaded instrument that was way more playable I expected (A lead screwed under any key)

Not elegant, I agree.
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#2294882 - 06/25/14 02:48 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
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?


Adding back weight have been a trend for a few years about 15-20 years ago, or making the actions stiffer.

The added mass have proved to be anti pianists since then, as what you manipulate is the hammer, not the key.

On verticals there are yet lead at the back, because of repetition, but also because verticals have little inertia if any, compared to grands.
But the inertia at the key is not perceived during acceleration, more at the beginning of the stroke.

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#2294898 - 06/25/14 03:27 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
A454.7 Offline
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Posts: 1438
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
If adding weight to the back of the key increases repetition speed, there is something dramatically wrong with the action.
While it is true that the resetting of the jack is the primary consideration for increased repetition, and the repetition spring is an important part to the double-repeating action, most pianist rarely take advantage of this in-the-key repetition feature. A pianist's perception of repetition is more dependant on the return speed on the key. When the keys aren't able to constantly stay in contact with the pianist's fingers during a dribbling kind of motion (i.e., mostly at the top portion of the keystroke: be it one staccato or multiple repetitions), the pianist will sense that the action as sluggish and unresponsive. <---that has nothing to do with the repetition lever or the spring, but instead is a function of the key not returning fast enough (i.e., not being enough out-of-balance enough: aka the down weight is too little).

If one were to take a conventional S&S--which currently has significantly heavier hammers that what earlier generations of pianists performed with--and then set the down weight to 70g, for example, it would indeed make the piano seem unplayably heavy!!! However, the keys would now return much faster and stay more connected with the quicker finger motions of the pianist. A quick key return is necessary for controlled repetition, either in or out of the key, so the system has to be balanced else where.

One could lower the action ratios, but this will also reduce the overall hammer speeds; the solution to making the entire system work properly is to reduce the overall hammer mass [or move the mass closer to the center pin]. This is not a new concept, this is how piano actions were originally designed and developed to function. There also happens to be other significant tonal benefits, especially in the capo section, with increased range in dynamics, louder sound outputs, better control over the softer dynamics, significantly better sustain and singing quality (i.e., the hammer acts less like a damper over its own weight), and reduced impact noise for the wooden hammer core/shank. The tenor and bass section also benefit tremendously by being able to control slower key speeds (i.e., softer dynamics)--which is extremely beneficial to voice between the registers (i.e., bring out the melodic line by suppressing the middle voices)--as well has also having much louder overall sound outputs.
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#2294901 - 06/25/14 03:30 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
SMHaley Online   content
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Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 785
Loc: Seattle
Originally Posted By: A443
SMHaley, US pianos are know for being heavy and European for being comparatively light--you have it completely backwards. It is also why the OP mentioned that in their part of the world weight is usually added to make the European pianos heavier. They are, presumably, adding weight to the back of the keys, which would make the entire system heavier [in terms of starting force] and also increase repetition (i.e., since the system is more out-of-balance).


Perhaps I do... Although in my personal experience I found that well maintained M & H, S&S NY, to be lighter than the well maintained Bösendorfers, Grotrians, Bechsteins, and Blüthners I have played. Yamaha's and Kawai's varied. If it is indeed backwards then my own experience only reinforced it.
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#2294905 - 06/25/14 03:37 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: SMHaley]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
Originally Posted By: SMHaley
Perhaps I do... Although in my personal experience I found that well maintained M & H, S&S NY, to be lighter than the well maintained Bösendorfers, Grotrians, Bechsteins, and Blüthners I have played.
European pianos tend to be voiced down more in the US that in Europe, and consequently psychologically 'feel' heavier with the resulting lack of power output, lack of impact/attack, and dullness. Perhaps you were responding to this...
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#2294911 - 06/25/14 03:46 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
SMHaley Online   content
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Registered: 05/06/13
Posts: 785
Loc: Seattle
Originally Posted By: A443
European pianos tend to be voiced down more in the US that in Europe, and consequently psychologically 'feel' heavier with the resulting lack of power output, lack of impact/attack, and dullness. Perhaps you were responding to this...


Mmm, no. In all but one case the European instruments were in fact voiced on the bright side - more than my preference, and the US instruments perhaps a tad wooly. I'm usually quite aware of the feel of the action separately from the voicing.
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#2294921 - 06/25/14 04:26 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
Even though I've developed an excellent understanding of how different weights throughout the action respond to different action geometries, and how this affects the overall feel and response at the keyboard, I still have to actively 'turn off' much of the audio/sound information I hear from the piano when I am testing a piano out (i.e., when the hammers are over/under voiced). As voicers, we have trained ourselves to correlated physical motion with the resultant sound, but when evaluating the touch and responsiveness of the action, this mental connections needs to somehow get turned-off or temporarily ignored. That is not so easy to do: I use earplugs to focus more on the actual touch response. ;-)
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#2294933 - 06/25/14 04:51 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
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Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1512
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Olek-
If you want more power - stronger tone - why not weight the hammer?
1/2 gram of brass or lead rod in the moulding does wonders.
It will make your touch heavier by 5 or six times the 1/2 gram and it is easier to do.
Also, the heavier down weight will be combined with a increased upweight of about the same amount minus a little friction making the action faster.
This works only if your action is not too heavy already.

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#2294941 - 06/25/14 05:03 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Ed Foote Offline
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Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1186
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: A443
While it is true that the resetting of the jack is the primary consideration for increased repetition, and the repetition spring is an important part to the double-repeating action, most pianist rarely take advantage of this in-the-key repetition feature. A pianist's perception of repetition is more dependant on the return speed on the key. When the keys aren't able to constantly stay in contact with the pianist's fingers during a dribbling kind of motion (i.e., mostly at the top portion of the keystroke: be it one staccato or multiple repetitions), the pianist will sense that the action as sluggish and unresponsive. <---that has nothing to do with the repetition lever or the spring, but instead is a function of the key not returning fast enough (i.e., not being enough out-of-balance enough: aka the down weight is too little).


Greetings,

I totally disagree. The pianists I work with gauge repetition by how fast they can repeatably play the note. The greatest factor in that is how high the hammer checks, since this determines how much key movement is required to reset the jack. The resetting of the jack is entirely dependent on how fast the key moves(spring) and how far it has to go (checking distance).

The repetition spring lifts the key for repetition, it does not lift the hammer. You can see this for yourself if you play a note, and then, while the hammers is held in check, slide your finger off the front of the key. You will notice that the hammer doesn't move until after the key is up, and at that point the hammer drops, it DOES NOT rise. The additional mass does not increase the speed of the key because the speed is determined by the spring's action against that mass, and the more of it there is, the more work is expected of the spring to lift it.

Another illustration is to play two adjacent notes, and then let one of them go off check. If you release both keys at the same time, the key without a compressed rep spring,(the one that is off the back check). is lethargic in comparison, and no amount of usable weight on the back will cause it to catch up.

My experience is that the more mass there is in the key, the slower the action will be. Gravity is fast, but nowhere near as fast as the spring. I have been asked by some faculty members to weight the actions for their "concert practice". Putting jiffy leads on the back made the action heavier, but invariably, the feedback was that it lost some rep speed. Putting a 1 gram clip on the hammer shank caused the same amount of "heaviness", and invariably was felt as faster.

The other consideration is that the heavier key will bounce more, and under fast play, this bouncing can upset the resetting.
Regards,

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#2294947 - 06/25/14 05:13 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
Gene Nelson...because additional hammer weight does not result in more power, or a stronger tone. More weight will change the partial distribution by dampening the higher partials and result in increased contact times, but this can reduce the total power output, especially in the capo section, as the hammer then also functions as a damper.

More power comes from faster hammers impacting the strings. It depends on the action geometry, but essentially any hammer+shank weight over 5g at the point of contact with the string begins to reduce the maximum 'terminal velocity' of the system.

5g is not very much at all...
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#2294959 - 06/25/14 05:41 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
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Registered: 09/10/04
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Yeah, assuming you just weight the hammers and ignore everything else.
Voicing is the key to solving hammer string contact time in this case.
I know - Ed has written much about light hammers and I understand the concept but heavier hammers move the string more efficiently and if done well will get more out of the string.
Light fast hammers in my opinion give a thinner tone.
F=MA.
Personally I will select the heaviest hammer I can get away with and adapt the action to it.
This may mean changing the spread or moving key capstans or removing/repositioning key leads or being happy and able to cope with shorter blow distance.
Less led in keys + heavy hammer (good quality hammers like Isaacs that have not been filled with lacquer) &good action geometry = maximum power and tone potential.
Certainly it would not make sense to weight up into the treble where excessive hammer string contact times could not be compensated for. It may take a bit of experimentation.
Also keep in mind that quality hammers play a roll in this.
More spring in the felt contributes considerably.
Hot pressed and heavily lacquered hammers I will avoid at all costs.


Edited by Gene Nelson (06/25/14 05:51 PM)

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#2294967 - 06/25/14 06:03 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
Oh, great, then I look forward to reading what Ed (Foote/McMorrow?) has to write about light hammers.

But, Gene Nelson, your assumption about heavier hammers getting more power out of the string (e.g., in the bass/tenor) is completely wrong--it is clear that you have never tested it. Try it out sometime and record/measure the difference. It is not a small difference: it is HUGE!

If you think fast light hammers give a thinner tone, then you have also never experimented with proportionally larger strike points. These two issues are interconnected and can not be confused or ignored.

Hammer voicing, and tension hammers are sadly not enough. They help, but they can only do so much...
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#2294971 - 06/25/14 06:19 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
Ed Foote, it is necessary that we learn to see the forest for the trees...

What you have said about the repetition spring and its interaction with key return is entirely correct, but even with the correct back checking height AND drop height, the spring can only partially accelerate/assist the key with its return from a dead stop--there is also a rebounded return where the key is bounced off the bottom of the cushion; the repetition spring plays no meaningful, if any, part of the key's return (e.g., staccato-like attacks, or when the fingers are pulled in for acceleration rather than being pushed straight down).

I know you know this, but the key-lever system is an out-of-balance seesaw--gravity works its affects on both sides of the equation. If the system is only 10g out-of-balance, the return of the key is very slow, just as it would be with a playground seesaw; the keys would not remain in contact with nor support the pianist's fingers on the return. Now, if you put the same system out-of-balance at 100g, it will be fast enough to always remain in contact with the pianist's fingers, no matter how fast the fingers are on the return. So the question is, what is the magic range that ensures the keys are always working with the pianist and never returning slower than their fingers are able to move? Have you tested it? Have you looked at/recorded key movement in relation to the return speed? Consider: many pieces use only the top portion of the keystroke [and with damper pedal], like in impressionistic tonal painting-like compositions--the spring isn't part of the action response in these cases; and 50g down weight isn't enough to keep the action responsive enough in these types of situations.
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#2294977 - 06/25/14 06:31 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
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Registered: 09/10/04
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Loc: Old Hangtown California
Its McMorrow
I have done it many times so there are no assumptions.
Careful about making up rules.
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#2294978 - 06/25/14 06:32 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
pianists do not appreciate that much to have the keys "glued" to the finger IMO.

the UW at the bottom of the key dip is generally sufficient as it is stronger as soon the jack reengage.

They like to play with the inertia of the action, if available enough.
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#2294982 - 06/25/14 06:48 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Posts: 1438
Gene Nelson, it is a test that can't possibly be messed-up or misinterpreted; it is a very straight forward scientific observation, which is why I'm calling you out on your statement. It is like saying: 'the light does not exist,' because you have your eyes shut and refuse to see.

In all seriousness: is there no difference in the speed at which you 'think' you can throw a 5lbs weight vs. a 100lbs weight against a wall? Which do you think will make a louder impact sound?!? Please think about it for a moment--there is a direct connection to how the piano system functions (i.e., you are the 'action' and the hammer is the 'weight' in that scenario; presumably, you can only throw so much weight around, right).
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#2294990 - 06/25/14 07:17 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
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Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1512
Loc: Old Hangtown California
You are not calling me out - you are just telling me that I am wrong.
Going against common accepted belief has its hazards and I have heard all of this before.
I have worked with this enough to have a good handle on my techniques and results so please do not make a fool of yourself.
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#2294999 - 06/25/14 07:48 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
What kind of hazards would you be referring to?

However, you didn't answer my question; you implied me a fool...which is not very nice, simply because we don't agree.

Let's start over: are you under the impression that if you were to throw a 5lbs weight and a 100lbs weight against the wall, you could somehow throw the 100lbs weight with the same speed and also create a larger and 'more efficient' impact sound? That doesn't seem to make very much sense, right?!? How much weight do you think the action can lift before it starts to affect the overall speed at which the hammer can possibly travel? Have you tested it? What were your findings?

Also, since you insist you have done this many time, and there are no assumptions: what was the approximate surface area of the bass hammers that you say sounded thin, because of the light hammers? What was the maximum that you dared to try? And, what were the tonal characteristics that you observed that made you determine, when you went too far?

If you have been honest with me, about trying this many times, then we can have a really nice discussion about what affects what, in terms of tone and touch. That would be nice, right?!?
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#2295012 - 06/25/14 08:34 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Posts: 1438
But, seriously though, please help me understand how an open discussion of scientific observations, as they relate to piano technology, could be hazardous?

Hazardous in what way? Is my life somehow in jeopardy? Is someone going to come after me for reminding technicians how the piano was designed to be put together and function...knowledge that technicians of the past already knew? How could the advancement and dissemination of free knowledge be in any way hazardous?

Are you saying that in the year 2014, the 'common accepted belief' about how the piano functions is somehow more important than scientific and rational thought? Is a company going to come after me for sharing this knowledge with technicians and artists? The variables are fairly straight forward, and any technician with a little thought can give an artist exactly what they want in terms of action response and sound. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Who would benefit from technicians not fulling understanding the different variables involved and how to adjust them to get the desired results?!? What, exactly, should I be afraid of?
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#2295023 - 06/25/14 09:09 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
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Ill try to make it more plain - what I am saying is that the formula that I wrote out is what I use and it gets great results consistently and has done for quite some time.
You don't like it or agree with it and thats ok.
You and others have said it cannot be done or does not work.
I have heard it quite a bit and my experience is quite to the contrary.
There is not much else to be said about it.
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#2295031 - 06/25/14 09:26 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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I have worked for over 30 years making grand actions with quite light hammers, high static touch weights, and high leverage. I call them LightHammer Pianos.

The advantages are; hugely better high treble tone, better treble tone projection in performance spaces, ergonometric ease for pianists, dramatically greater stability and durability, greater tolerance of tight centers and key bushings, less percussive tone quality, better shift pedal function and these are just off the top of my head.

F=MA. The extra force you can develop with heavier hammers is wasted by the string vibrating into the felt because hammer contact time is greater and thus the impact sound is noisier. An aesthetic decision is called for regarding what is noise and what is tone. The range of hammer mass that works well in the bass and tenor is much wider than the range from about note 50-88. So one can debate how percussive they want the lower part of the compass, but the added percussion of the heavier hammers comes with a slow action price and reduced durability.

The first class I took on tone regulation was given by the then head Tone Regulator at NY Steinway, Fred Drasche. The first two sentences out of his mouth were; "The hammer has got to get away from the string". "The voicer puts the tone in the hammer by the shape."

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.

I find the sound of the heavier hammered pianos "thin" and "nasal" because they have so much more "thwap" sound from the hammer. In the treble this becomes really bad with too heavy hammers and the piano sounds like someone trying to sing with a lisp.

Could we keep this debate more civil my friends?
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#2295032 - 06/25/14 09:26 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Weiyan are you asking about vertical pianos?
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#2295040 - 06/25/14 09:45 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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OK, Gene Nelson, so you don't want to discuss; that's cool.

However, just to give you something to consider: perhaps you misunderstood other people, as you've misunderstood me. I never said what you do isn't possible, or that it doesn't produce great results!!!

I simply took issue with your lack of understating regarding how the laws of physics applies to pianos, and what the different possible variables in the system are. The manner in which you described a light hammer tone, illustrated to me clearly that you didn't think to significantly flatten the strike point to compensate for a thin tone. As you undoubtedly know: voicing is very important, and the hammer's shape is a significant part of that process.
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#2295057 - 06/25/14 10:16 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Paul678 Online   content
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Interesting discussion, even if some of it is out of my
experience.

Does Yamaha add lots of lead weight into their piano keys?

It sure feels like it. It makes my already weak trills even
more challenging.

I prefer the easier trilling on the M&H that I just tried again.

But would it be better to get a Yamaha, because the heavier action
exercises the fingers more? And makes them stronger?

This way, if I get used to the heavier action, when I move to play
a lighter action piano, I will trill even faster! Like playing
basketball with lead weights on your ankles, and then taking them
off for the big game.

Or would it be better to just get the lighter action that suits
my current technique?

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#2295069 - 06/25/14 10:45 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Paul678]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Paul687,
There are actions that have such a level of inertia to them that they can injure some pianist when they try to play challenging pieces. It is very easy to overdo the "heavy practice piano syndrome".

In general Yamaha grands are in the higher side of inertia but broad generalizations are full of the hazard of specific example. They usually do get too light after significant hammer wear and shaping to maintain tone quality is performed. I usually remove a front key lead after significant shaping. That improves key return and soft playing control.
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#2295073 - 06/25/14 10:51 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Wow, Ed McMorrow, RPT, it is nice to read/meet you: I was beginning to think that no one else in the world thought logically and rationally about how the piano functions!!!

This has all been rather frustrating. These concepts are fairly straight forward, and can be easily tested to prove their validity. That is after all, how I came to them in the first place. It's nothing new; it has all been done before all throughout history. These are not wacko theories; if they were, we wouldn't have all arrived at the exact same conclusions. Clearly, you've been at it a lot longer than me; it sounds like others have heard this concept before, yet continue to believe in something different. What is the deal with that? It is not a religion; it's where science meets the needs of the performing arts.

Are there any other thinking, analysing, experimenting, knowledgable technicians out there like yourself? Where is everyone hiding, and why is this even an issue? We can change any and all the variables to create whatever desired outcome the pianist wants. This is clearly awesome. What is wrong with giving pianists what they need to express what the want to artistically?


Edited by A443 (06/25/14 11:00 PM)
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#2295086 - 06/25/14 11:09 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Weiyan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Weiyan are you asking about vertical pianos?


Most of my experience is vertical pianos. Grand also in my concern. Once serve a piano teacher's grand, there is 30 gram weight loaded to place not too far behind balance pin hold. I think its better to persuade to remove it, instead to move the weight backward near the backcheck. Add lead at that point causing uneven touch between C maj chord and A flat maj chord.

For uprights, the key stick is so short that the touch is quite is a lot difference from touch the front end to back end of the key. Black keys may have reverse leverage. Its difficult to balance out all keys.

My opinion is better left it as, do less better than more. For those dirty old yamaha better lube it instead to make the key heavier. I want more pro and cons, and consideration about weight the key. I can present the two sides of weighting key to customers.
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#2295093 - 06/25/14 11:13 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Paul678 Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Paul687,
There are actions that have such a level of inertia to them that they can injure some pianist when they try to play challenging pieces. It is very easy to overdo the "heavy practice piano syndrome".

In general Yamaha grands are in the higher side of inertia but broad generalizations are full of the hazard of specific example. They usually do get too light after significant hammer wear and shaping to maintain tone quality is performed. I usually remove a front key lead after significant shaping. That improves key return and soft playing control.


Ok, so if I understand you correctly, the hammers themselves get too light after lot's of shaping, so you end up having to remove some of the lead weight in the key, to regain the balance of the system, right?

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#2295098 - 06/25/14 11:19 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gene Nelson]
Olek Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gene Nelson
Olek-
If you want more power - stronger tone - why not weight the hammer?
1/2 gram of brass or lead rod in the moulding does wonders.
It will make your touch heavier by 5 or six times the 1/2 gram and it is easier to do.
Also, the heavier down weight will be combined with a increased upweight of about the same amount minus a little friction making the action faster.
This works only if your action is not too heavy already.


Thanks Gene, I have tried that and was not having a similar tone from one hammer to the next. May be also the hammer shank dynamics is modified in an unusual way.

What I did was using too heavy hammers to begin with, exactly what should not be done!
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#2295101 - 06/25/14 11:27 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted By: A443
Ed Foote, it is necessary that we learn to see the forest for the trees...

What you have said about the repetition spring and its interaction with key return is entirely correct, but even with the correct back checking height AND drop height, the spring can only partially accelerate/assist the key with its return from a dead stop--there is also a rebounded return where the key is bounced off the bottom of the cushion; the repetition spring plays no meaningful, if any, part of the key's return (e.g., staccato-like attacks, or when the fingers are pulled in for acceleration rather than being pushed straight down).

I know you know this, but the key-lever system is an out-of-balance seesaw--gravity works its affects on both sides of the equation. If the system is only 10g out-of-balance, the return of the key is very slow, just as it would be with a playground seesaw; the keys would not remain in contact with nor support the pianist's fingers on the return. Now, if you put the same system out-of-balance at 100g, it will be fast enough to always remain in contact with the pianist's fingers, no matter how fast the fingers are on the return


Greetings,

If you believe that a five pound ball of lead will fall faster than a 10 pound ball of lead, you logic with adding weight to increase repetition makes sense. I have, with experience, found that not to be true. If you are talking about added weight assisting the keys to bounce off the cushions,(back rail or front punchings?), you are implying that faster repetition comes from out of control movement. I don't think so. The harpsichords I maintain are nowhere close to the imbalance of a piano, yet they play as fast as a human can move the keys.

And, I will add, in 36 years of doing this work, and debating untold times, I have never heard anyone advocating increasing the speed of repetition by increasing the key weight, unless you are comparing the extremes of usable weights. So, if you have groundbreaking research to prove this, I am sure the Journal would love to have your article for peer review.

I believe I saw the forest when Alica De LaRocca told the stage manager that my piano action was the first in her life that she could play everything she wanted as rapidly as she desired, just as she found it. Anytime you would like to compare repetition speed between your actions and mine, just come on over to Vanderbilt and I will be happy to oblige.
Regards,

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#2295109 - 06/25/14 11:44 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Paul678]
Weiyan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Paul678
Interesting discussion, even if some of it is out of my
experience.

Does Yamaha add lots of lead weight into their piano keys?


Or would it be better to just get the lighter action that suits
my current technique?


There are many ancient Yamaha here. The key feeling is loose for piano in this age. A lot expensive than a new Hailun and Ritmuller. Techs do persuade them to add weight. They even side paid teacher to join the party.
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#2295111 - 06/25/14 11:47 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Ed,
Alicia De LaRocca told me the same thing! Maybe she got confused by our same names.

I think A443 was referring to increased up-weight by reduced front leads speeding up key return.

A443. Thanks for noticing! It does sound like we have come to similar findings. I wrote a text titled; The Educated Piano, in the mid 1980's about LightHammer Tone Regulation, V-bar shaping, and other verboten topics. Steinway NY purchased 7 copies. Cristofori invented light hammers.

Have you perused my PW posts regarding my patent pending Fully Tempered Duplex Scale and the ones on Hybrid Wire Scales?
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#2295112 - 06/25/14 11:47 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Thanks, Ed Foote, for the invitation--that is very kind of you--but, do you maybe have a video of perhaps Alborada del Gracisco, L'isle joyeuse, or Gaspard de la nuit on your piano? I can tell most of what I'd need to know by listening and watching.
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#2295115 - 06/25/14 11:52 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Weiyan,
One way you can improve repetition and increase touch weight in a vertical is to lighten the front end of the keys by using a Forstner bit to drill holes through the sides just like they do for installing key leads-but leave them empty. Then if you still want a more firm touch add a small lead to the back of the key as close to the end as possible. It is very easy to ruin the touch by having too much weight in the hammers, keys and action parts.
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#2295124 - 06/26/14 12:22 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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I think what matters the most in the action is that the parts get together so there is minimum loss when the keys are repeated.
The light inertia key can also be very tiring as the pianist have to follow the keys so yes some energy is expected.
I think pianists are use to control the uncontrollable .
There is of course a range of feel more adapted to different way of apprehending the keyboard, ala harpsichord player or ala A. Schnaebel .

Hopefully different pianos still may be pleasing different pianists.
WHen it comes to Steinway they have things at the limit, what they do cannot be done with a Renner action , and only works because an ensemble of parameters put together.

Forget one and the action does not play right (while it have been getting more tolerant now - out of the softer hammers to make a more easy tone to pianists with problems of touch - or to compensate for something else)


Analyzing their action may lend to the impression hammers are too heavy for the global ratio, for instance.




Edited by Olek (06/26/14 12:31 AM)
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#2295127 - 06/26/14 12:27 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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I happen to like the tone of light older hammers with a flat crown that compensates for mass, but the attack is damping partials still, an the tone does not seem to project as much (while I mostly have seen that in private homes)

To put in motion such heavy things as wound strings + bridge plus sounboard, a minimum amount of mass is necessary, the max you can accelerate while using action compression, shank/key stiffness reaction, etc

I am certain a piano with rigid keys (no flex an release) at all would be bad.

The pianist is "keeping balls in the air" predictability is certainly a must there, but due to the necessary process the mind of the pianist automatically maps the instrument in regard of inertia an stiffness, then forget it an concentrates on music. wink


Edited by Olek (06/26/14 12:30 AM)
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#2295131 - 06/26/14 12:42 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Alicia De LaRocca told me the same thing!
Me too...almost verbatim.

Ed Foote, let's be honest: we all know the condition of concert pianos out there is generally so poor, that when artists find a 'functioning' piano, they are thrilled beyond belief <---- that's not saying very much. I've been to Carnegie twice in the past few years where a key on the piano simply failed to return at all; luckily, it was not my piano and not my problem. It's all a matter of perspective--I tend to focus more on what the artist is able to say at the piano; that is the only thing that matters to me. I hope you can understand.

Ed McMorrow, RPT, I'll have to go get your book; it sound like a very interesting read! I'll try reading your patent application again; I kind of got side tracked...the patent legalese doesn't necessarily make for an easy/efficient read, especially when I have to also think about the topic at hand and all the implications. ;-)
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#2295135 - 06/26/14 01:03 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Paul678]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Paul678,
Yes.
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#2295141 - 06/26/14 01:25 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gadzar Offline
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Which falls faster? A wooden ball or a ball made of lead?

It has been proved that they fall at the same time.

The acceleration is the same:

G = 9.81 m/s2

So back weight in the keys does not make them to return faster.


Edited by Gadzar (06/26/14 01:39 AM)
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#2295146 - 06/26/14 01:37 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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There is a neat demonstration of that by Poletti seeing the piano action as 2 weights balanced a rope

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6GjQDkF_AMQQVI5Z3NhS3F4cGc/edit?usp=sharing

he leave aside the catapult an kinetic energy. Just about mass.

I also believe that the flexing and release of the action may add acceleration (at what point ?)


that is at the point the acceleration is more than that where the mass begin to be interesting.

PS on Kg of feather fall more slowly than .... wink


Edited by Olek (06/26/14 01:38 AM)
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#2295148 - 06/26/14 01:48 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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The mass of the front of the key, by braking the key is helping the finger to take more easily control on key flex and hammer shank flex I think.

Yes it may have changed the way piano is played.

Now I think there should be some relation between mass of the key , mass of the pianists arms, and level of acceleration of the hammer/shank.

Heavy keys and low ratio are horrible.

The breaking of inertia gives some immediate tactile return in the finger that knows at that point what the rest of the resistance will be.

WIthin limits - make sense




Edited by Olek (06/26/14 01:49 AM)
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#2295432 - 06/26/14 05:58 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
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I don't have a lack of understanding.
Just the will to try to pass your litmus test.
Ed explained some of it but consider this:
Olec uses a lead weight at front of key to assist acceleration of hammer and it gets him more force at the string from the hammer.
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.
The latter will increase up and down weight while the former will decrease down weight and decrease upweight.
In the real world F=MA works but in the piano action maybe not quite.
Parts flex especially the hammer shank.
Action saturation sets limits.
Pianist can vary the starting energy that accelerates the hammer.
All things being equal one would think that Olec's approach and mine would net the same tonal result but not the case. The heavier hammer gives a better tone.
Have I taken a piano action into a physics lab to measure acceleration and force and observe string vibration patterns? No. but I know how my technique effects touch weight, I can redesign touch weight to cope with what I do and the tone and I can make a heavy hammer work within certain limits. Certainly hammer string contact time is a limit and all of the things I have explained are the tools that I use to avoid and work within this limit - I would not know how to provide scientific data to demonstrate hammer felt resiliance or the voicing techniques that I use or the resulting tone that can be produced - sorry.
Moving 5 and 100 pound weights around has no relevance to piano actions.
What more would you like to know?
BTW - I own Ed McMorrow's book and have read it cover to cover more than once. I refer to it frequently - he is a brilliant technician.

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#2295451 - 06/26/14 06:50 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Which falls faster? A wooden ball or a ball made of lead?
It has been proved that they fall at the same time.
The acceleration is the same:
G = 9.81 m/s2
So back weight in the keys does not make them to return faster.


No, that is not true, (unless you are dropping them in a vacuum). The 5 lb. ball of lead and the 10 lb. ball of lead will drop the same speed, and two wooden balls of different weights will fall the same, but the density of the lead will have it on the ground before the wooden one, i.e., a 1 lb ball of lead will fall faster than a 100 lb ball of wood.

consider dropping a marble and a marshmallow at the same time. They weigh about the same, but there is a dramatic difference in how fast they fall.
Regards,

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#2295460 - 06/26/14 07:14 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
DoelKees Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gadzar
Which falls faster? A wooden ball or a ball made of lead?

It has been proved that they fall at the same time.

The acceleration is the same:

G = 9.81 m/s2

So back weight in the keys does not make them to return faster.

That would be true if you dropped the key from the leaning tower of Pisa, but not for a pivot mechanism.
Imagine a see-saw rate of fall with 1) One person slightly heavier than the other 2) One person much heavier than the other.

Kees

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#2295476 - 06/26/14 07:37 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gadzar Offline
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If you add lead to a key, you increment weight but you increment mass (inertia) in the same proportion, the result is you left unchanged the falling acceleration.

In the see-saw the same happens! The heavier person applies a greater force but has a higher mass and that results in the same acceleration.

a = f/m

a acceleration
f force
m mass

If you apply a force with no increment in mass, as with a spring, then you have a greater acceleration.


Edited by Gadzar (06/26/14 07:40 PM)
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#2295494 - 06/26/14 08:05 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
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I enjoyed working with the solution MBA brought to the table. Shame, the high cost.
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#2295509 - 06/26/14 08:42 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
DoelKees Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gadzar
If you add lead to a key, you increment weight but you increment mass (inertia) in the same proportion, the result is you left unchanged the falling acceleration.

In the see-saw the same happens! The heavier person applies a greater force but has a higher mass and that results in the same acceleration.

a = f/m

a acceleration
f force
m mass

If you apply a force with no increment in mass, as with a spring, then you have a greater acceleration.

I guess you have never played on one.

Imagine A and B sitting on the see-saw with their feet on the ground and the thing is horizontal. What happens if they lift their feet? 1) A is equal mass to B, nothing happens, acceleration is zero 2) A now downs a big gulp and we repeat. Now the side with A is accelerating very slowly down as he is a bit heavier. 3) Now let A hold a 10kg weight and repeat. I assure you the side A is sitting on will now accelerate much more rapidly.

Kees

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#2295511 - 06/26/14 08:46 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gadzar Offline
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If you considere an isolated key (no whippen) you'll see that it is a pendulum, the return of the key to its rest position once it is released is only subject to gravity.


There is no other force acting on the key. So the acceleration is no other than G.


Edited by Gadzar (06/26/14 08:53 PM)
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#2295519 - 06/26/14 09:06 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gadzar Offline
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You all are confusing force with acceleration. By adding weight you increment force but no acceleration.

When you add lead, you add force and mass in exactly the same proportion and thus acceleration is left unchanged!
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#2295544 - 06/26/14 09:48 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gene Nelson]
DoelKees Offline
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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


Edited by DoelKees (06/26/14 09:48 PM)

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#2295565 - 06/26/14 10:57 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
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I am of the opinion that no matter what the mass of the hammer, the string will attempt to bounce it back in 1/f seconds, where f is the frequency of the note. How successful it is at that depends on a number of properties of the hammer, and mass is only one of them.
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#2295571 - 06/26/14 11:15 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: BDB]
DoelKees Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
I am of the opinion that no matter what the mass of the hammer, the string will attempt to bounce it back in 1/f seconds, where f is the frequency of the note. How successful it is at that depends on a number of properties of the hammer, and mass is only one of them.

Sounds like a reasonable approach to refine the physics intuitively. But what is f? The fundamental? The strongest partial?

Long time ago I looked at hitting a bell with a metal hammer. If the hammer impacts, the local surface is propelled away but returns very rapidly to collide again with the hammer; this would correspond to your f being one of the higher partials. After this second collision the process repeats several times, each event involving lower partials and more complex motions of the bell. These multiple impacts (called micro-collisions in the literature) are an essential feature in determining the resulting sound.

For the case at hand it is even more complex, as the hammer itself is not rigid, and the contact area also comes onto play.

Yet the conclusions from the "level 1" approximation, that a lighter hammer excites relatively more higher partials (resulting in a "thin" sound) remains valid I think.

Kees

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#2295580 - 06/26/14 11:39 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
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Unless the string is vibrating in another mode, the frequency is the fundamental. There is only one string. There are no other strings vibrating at any other frequencies.
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#2295582 - 06/26/14 11:42 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
DoelKees Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gadzar
You all are confusing force with acceleration. By adding weight you increment force but no acceleration.

When you add lead, you add force and mass in exactly the same proportion and thus acceleration is left unchanged!

You are ignoring the weight of the front part of the key.

The lead weight experiences the sum of two forces: 1) gravity = Mg (M=mass of weight, g = 9.8m/s^2) , and 2) the pivot force F from the front part of the key, acting in opposite direction.

So total force on weight is F_tot = MG-F and acceleration is
a = F_tot/M_effective where M_effective is the effective mass taking into account the whole key including weight.

If you now increase the weight M and do some basic calculation you will find that F_tot will increase more than M_effective, hence a faster return.

There is a limit however; beyond a certain value of M the process becomes dominated by the weight and the front key weight becomes irrelevant. At this stage you are right, but as far as I understand this is not where piano parameters are.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Kees

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#2295605 - 06/27/14 01:42 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
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The piano's action geometry cannot accelerate unlimited mass to unlimited speeds.

Consider: how fast might one be able to accelerate a 10 lbs hammer affixed to the end of the shank? You only have a 10 mm key dip to get it going. Do you think you could even get it up to the string?!? Maybe--it depends on the action geometry--regardless, it is probably not going to be moving very fast at the point of contact--even though it's very heavy--AND more importantly: the resultant sound is not going to be very loud. The mass is overloading the system. <---that is the problem with most modern pianos, and what most limits their overall functionality.

The action geometry determines the limits of the system. In terms of the hammer's maximum acceleration potential, distance is a major limiting factor (i.e., there is only 10mm to accelerate the mass). But, as the aforementioned scenario illustrates, mass is also a limiting factor in the system. How much the system can lift, before it begins to affect the speed of the hammer (i.e., reducing the maximum acceleration potential), is a function of the action geometry. So, the main question is: at what weight does the mass begin to reduce the maximum potential speed the hammer can travel? When does the system start overloading?

The system starts slowing down around 5g (i.e., strike weight), depending on the action geometry. Consider/remember: the original action designs were never intended to lift such heavy modern hammers; modern makers have increased hammer weight beyond what the system was intended to support. Hence why most modern pianos never really get an opportunity to reach their maximum acceleration potentials. A reduction in speed equates to a reduction in sound output, among other issues...and it only gets worse with additional weight.

Anyone can test this concept: take a spare hammer from the capo/melodic section, and install it in the tenor section. <---notice the immediate and dramatic increase in dynamics available. Because the hammer is now being accelerated at faster velocities, the change in condition necessitates a proportionally softer hammer (i.e., you will need to 'over voice' it). Another proportional relationship exists between the hammer weight and the shape of the hammer, when determining the tonal characteristics of the hammer; if you want a thicker tone with more attack, you are going to also have to file the hammer (i.e., the hammer will need to be flatter than you will have experienced with heavier hammers).
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#2295652 - 06/27/14 04:43 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: DoelKees]
Gadzar Offline
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Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
You all are confusing force with acceleration. By adding weight you increment force but no acceleration.

When you add lead, you add force and mass in exactly the same proportion and thus acceleration is left unchanged!

You are ignoring the weight of the front part of the key.

The lead weight experiences the sum of two forces: 1) gravity = Mg (M=mass of weight, g = 9.8m/s^2) , and 2) the pivot force F from the front part of the key, acting in opposite direction.

So total force on weight is F_tot = MG-F and acceleration is
a = F_tot/M_effective where M_effective is the effective mass taking into account the whole key including weight.

If you now increase the weight M and do some basic calculation you will find that F_tot will increase more than M_effective, hence a faster return.

There is a limit however; beyond a certain value of M the process becomes dominated by the weight and the front key weight becomes irrelevant. At this stage you are right, but as far as I understand this is not where piano parameters are.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Kees


Kees, as I see it, when the key is depressed it pushes up the whippen. Then the hammer checks and the system locks, it is at rest. The whippen is pushing down on the capstan, by its own weight and mainly by the push of the repetition spring. When the key is released it returns by the means of two forces: the weight of the key and the push of the whippen. IMO, the push of the repetition spring is greater than the weight of both the whippen and the key. The higher the mass of the key, the slower the returning.
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#2295712 - 06/27/14 09:52 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted By: A443


The action geometry determines the limits of the system. .


\Greetings,
In an ideal world, perhaps, but this statement ignores the limiting effect of compliance, which determines the saturation point of the system. Heavier hammers lower that point, regardless of the weight of the key.
Regards,

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#2295747 - 06/27/14 11:40 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
[...] this statement ignores the limiting effect of compliance, which determines the saturation point of the system. Heavier hammers lower that point, regardless of the weight of the key.
Ed Foote, I am interested in better understanding your compliance concept and how that relates to the piano. Would you mind please explaining this further?

You seem to be contradicting my statement: the action geometry determines the limits of the system. Let me reinforce my point, with regards to the hammer mass and not yet factoring in any conditions at the key. If we were to increase the action geometry from c.5:1 to 10:1, it would be necessary to dramatically decrease the hammer weight in order for the system to function (i.e., if not, the keys would too heavy to accelerate for musical use); the inverse is also true: if the action geometry is decreased from c.5:1 to 2:1, the system could accommodate a heavier hammer mass without becoming saturated.

That is a very important consideration, ignored by most modern technicians/rebuilders/manufactures, which has significant impacts on how the action feels to the pianists. If they choose to exceed the maximum weight that the action geometry can accelerate, the maximum hammer speed and the controllability of softer dynamics will be effected; the more these limits are exceeded, the greater detriment to playability and performance of the piano.
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#2295764 - 06/27/14 12:12 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gadzar
[...]when the key is depressed it pushes up the whippen. Then the hammer checks and the system locks, it is at rest. The whippen is pushing down on the capstan, by its own weight and mainly by the push of the repetition spring. When the key is released it returns by the means of two forces: the weight of the key and the push of the whippen. IMO, the push of the repetition spring is greater than the weight of both the whippen and the key. The higher the mass of the key, the slower the returning.
Gadzar, I would like to ask you et al. to please go to a piano and test your theory; the theory is easy to prove incorrect.

Hold the key to the point immediately prior to escapement (i.e., so that the repetition spring playings no role in your observations, since it is not engaged in the system). Then temporally place a few leads near the capstan (i.e., loosely on top the key) and notice the change in return speed of the key. Compare it to surrounding notes. You should be able to observe a noticeable increase in speed with your eyes, without any special measuring equipment.

Now transfer the leads to the opposite side of the fulcrum, but this time go through escapement and into check (i.e., so the repetition spring is engaged). From this dead stop, you should now notice the key return speed is significantly slower, and the spring is, in fact, not enough to properly return the key to the starting position--most likely, the key will fail to fully return to the original starting position.

This should be enough evidence to confirm that your theory does not apply to the piano's system as you've described. If you would like do further testing, to confirm these results, I'd be happy to provide you with other methodologies.
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#2295773 - 06/27/14 12:30 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: BDB]
prout Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
Unless the string is vibrating in another mode, the frequency is the fundamental. There is only one string. There are no other strings vibrating at any other frequencies.


As always, BDB, you have an interesting view on how a string vibrates.

You say, if I interpret you correctly, that, because there is only one string, there is only one frequency. Yet, you use the term fundamental for that frequency, implying that the string has other frequencies at which it vibrates. Would it not be better to say that the string vibrates at its 'proper frequency' and avoid the confusion of 'fundamental'?

Also, you and Kees corrected me some time ago when I spoke of the periodic motion of a piano string. You state that a piano string does not exhibit periodic motion, therefore you cannot use the term 'fundamental frequency' to describe the motion of a piano string. If it is not periodic, it has no definable frequency.

I believe that it is practically useful to think of a string as exhibiting many simultaneous approximately definable frequencies, which allows me then to shape the tone of a played note through velocity, strike line, hammer shaping, string quality, etcetera.

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#2295782 - 06/27/14 12:56 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted By: A443
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
[...] this statement ignores the limiting effect of compliance, which determines the saturation point of the system. Heavier hammers lower that point, regardless of the weight of the key.
Ed Foote, I am interested in better understanding your compliance concept and how that relates to the piano. Would you mind please explaining this further?
<snip>
That is a very important consideration, ignored by most modern technicians/rebuilders/manufactures, which has significant impacts on how the action feels to the pianists. If they choose to exceed the maximum weight that the action geometry can accelerate, the maximum hammer speed and the controllability of softer dynamics will be effected; the more these limits are exceeded, the greater detriment to playability and performance of the piano.


I suppose we should first define a term before using it. What are you calling "limits"? My contention here is that geometry doesn't set "limits", rather, it creates parameters. Flex creates action saturation, which is a limit and the weight of the key has little to do with that. Compliance is the determinant of saturation. It can be measured by how far the key moves before the hammer begins to move. Heavier hammers increase the compliance, and since the flex of the key is a component of compliance, adding weight to the key increases flex of the key.

Gravity is fast, but not as fast as a spring. And gravity doesn't accelerate a heavy object any faster than a lighter one unless there is resistance to overcome. Since the only forces acting on the key when it is released are gravity and spring, and gravity doesn't care what something weighs, adding weight increases the mass ( and inertial resistance). The spring must accelerate this mass in order to reset the jack. Any additional speed that could come from additional mass falling unimpeded is counteracted by the additional work the spring must do to accelerate it. If there is some impediment, like excessive friction, then the additional weight has value, otherwise, my experience is that it is of limited use and often counterproductive. Thus my original statement that if more weight on the back of the key speeds up the repetition, there is something else wrong.
Regards,

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#2295817 - 06/27/14 02:12 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Ed Foote, I can tell--by your writings and your reasonings--that you are a concert piano technician with experience using increased repetition spring tension in an attempt to overcome repetition problems with a specific manufacture's piano.

Having had similar observations and experiences, I can confirm: in a limited manner and under specific circumstances, one can slightly cheat the system and increase repetition. However, the affect is also dependant upon on the amount of drop and the backcheck height.

Increasing the drop, increases the effect--but, that also affects the distance the key must travel before the jack can reset, which then decreases the ability of the pianist to execute very small deep in-the-key repetition movements. It also affects the 'smoochy' feeling of the moments involved around the escapement--which may, or may not, be detectable by the pianist during play.

Decreasing the backcheck height (i.e., a larger distance from the string), increases the effect--but, that also affects the distance the key needs to travel before the jack can reset, which then decreases the ability of the pianist to execute very small deep in-the-key repetition movements (i.e., a decreased backcheck height engages the spring tension for more of the key's return, so it can help, but at the detriment of deep in-the-key repetition). It also makes the keys feel sloppy to the pianist as the the impact timing is perceivably later at the back of the key.

Your observations are valid: a higher than normal spring tension, and the possible compensation of other regulation adjustments, can assist a badly assembled and functioning action by slightly increasing the overall key return. However, not only are there detrimental consequences of 'overclocking' to the intended of function of a 'double-repetion' action--essentially rendering its functionality nearly useless--but the observations that you describe are not actually part of the physics involved: the adjustment can slightly overcome physical limitations of the builder's lack of attention to detail, but can only do so with dire consequences to the intended functionally of the action's design.

The same is true for tension hammers. A tension hammer can assist with the problems of a heavy hammer hitting the string (i.e., the longer a heavy hammer stays in contact with the string, and the multiple string oscillations come in contact with the hammer, the more it will also functions like a damper). If you have a lot of experiences with voicing different kinds of hammers, you will undoubtably know that this hammer 'spring' can be helpful in assisting with the problems of heavier hammers and faster frequencies, but it is not a requirement for solving the problem and creating an excellent/superior tone (i.e., lacquered hammers can be made to sound tonally equivalent, if not better, than tension hammer). <----scandalous...I know; but it's true!
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#2295842 - 06/27/14 03:51 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
My contention here is that geometry doesn't set "limits", rather, it creates parameters. Flex creates action saturation, which is a limit and the weight of the key has little to do with that. Compliance is the determinant of saturation. It can be measured by how far the key moves before the hammer begins to move. Heavier hammers increase the compliance, and since the flex of the key is a component of compliance, adding weight to the key increases flex of the key.
OK, so you are saying that compliance = action saturation? If so, I would rather use the term action saturation then.

Yes: in, general, adding weight to the key will increase the flex, which contributes to action saturation. Action saturation, in essence, is wasted or misdirect energy.

Caution: I am not recommending or advocating the addition of mass in the keys. You are probably familiar with the effects of adding more lead to the keys, because that well-know company with repetition issues, at one point in their history, chose to add excessive amounts of mass to their keys. So, your observations are correct: too much mass in the keys produces unnecessary action saturation. However, the increased moments of inertia also gave pianists an additional tactile sensation of where the action started to max-out tonally (i.e., in the upper registers, not the bass). My concern is the health of the pianist, and I don't think that this is a healthy approach. But, is it not completely without merit: the amount of weight in the key is a variable as it relates to the moments of inertia (i.e., the difference in the static feeling of weight between a ppp and fff as perceived by the pianist). Either way, this weight/mass needs to be scaled in to the design of a properly balanced and functioning action. We can't avoid it completely: the mass between the naturals and sharps are different--naturally one would want the moments of inertia scaled consistently through out the action (i.e., even though this detail is usually completely neglected).

What I was referring to previously with regards to lead, was in terms of how out-of-balanced the system should be--regardless of whether one adds lead to the back of the system, or removes leads in the front of the system. What is important is the balance weight [aka down weight](i.e., yes, it is technically the upweight which matters for repetition, but for purposes of this discussion--since we are talking about the perception of weight--I will use the term balance weight): great repetition requires more than a 50g balance weight. So, where are the upper limits of repetition based on the limitations of balance weight? Well, it depends on what your kind of action feel and tonal requirements the pianist desires, but repetition rates will continue to significantly increase up to at least 90g--naturally, with corresponding changes to the rest of the geometry. One can go more than 90g, but increased results seem to start diminishing around 70-80g, and the action really starts to push back at the pianist. Some playing style, however, can take advantage of these opportunities.


Edited by A443 (06/27/14 06:20 PM)
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#2295850 - 06/27/14 04:14 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
James Carney Offline
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70-80 grams BW? Isn't anything above 40 on the high side?
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#2295853 - 06/27/14 04:22 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: James Carney]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: James Carney
70-80 grams BW? Isn't anything above 40 on the high side?
48g-52g is a pretty normal balance weight (aka down weight) for modern hammers.

It has been awhile such I've checked, but I remember a Japanese manufacture, with slightly lighter hammers, setting their 'down weight' around 60g.

The lighter the hammers, the more down weight one can employ without feeling 'heavy,' and in return, get more return with the key (i.e., faster repetition).


Edited by A443 (06/27/14 05:36 PM)
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#2295872 - 06/27/14 05:13 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
James Carney Offline
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Originally Posted By: A443
Originally Posted By: James Carney
70-80 grams BW? Isn't anything above 40 on the high side?
48g-52g is a pretty normal BW for modern hammers.

It has been awhile such I've checked, but I remember a Japanese manufacture, with slightly lighter hammers, setting their BW around 60g.

The lighter the hammers, the more BW one can employ without feeling 'heavy,' and in return, get more return with the key (i.e., faster repetition).


48-52 grams is a normal downweight (DW) found on a new quality piano. A typical upweight might be 24g on that same new piano. (Assuming all pinning and key bushings are in the zone.)

DW + UW /2 = BW.

Using that equation, the numbers I gave above would give a BW of 36-38. That BW would satisfy the majority of professional pianists.

I cannot imagine how a piano with a BW in the 60s or 70s would feel...
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#2295877 - 06/27/14 05:34 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
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OIC...I was using the term "balance weight" more literally, as in, how much out-of-blance the system is set.

It looks like someone else may have coined the term Balance Weight to mean something slight different. But I am curious: why is the average between the the DW and UW of any significance [DW + UW /2 = BW]? What does that number tell us?

Up-weight is important for increased key return (i.e., repetition).
Down-weight is one of the heaviness feelings a pianist can perceive.
The difference between the two is a function of friction.

But, why would we need to know a 'Balance Weight' number?
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#2295882 - 06/27/14 05:51 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted By: A443
OIC...I was using the term "balance weight" more literally, as in, how much out-of-blance the system is set.

It looks like someone else may have coined the term Balance Weight to mean something slight different. But I am curious: why is the average between the the DW and UW of any significance [DW + UW /2 = BW]? What does that number tell us?
But, why would we need to know a 'Balance Weight' number?


Greetings.,
David Stanwood's work on action measurement, which many of us have found useful, uses specific terms which, as far as I know, most action specialists take into consideration. I do, though I don't use David's exact formula for applying them. They include, UW,DW, BW, SW,KW, FW, and a bunch of ratios. These values are able to be plugged into his metrology system to arrive at whatever target the tech is aiming for.

Regards,

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#2295886 - 06/27/14 06:01 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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...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?
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#2295898 - 06/27/14 06:30 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
acortot Offline
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I think this answer said it all:

"IMHO, this is complete and utter nonsense--I place the original blame directly with S&S. There was a period of time where they increased hammer weight so dramatically, and in turn needed to balance out that weight with extra mass by installing crazy amount of leads into the keys, that the pianos became impossibly heavy and difficult to deal with. Pianists got used to this heaviness, piano technique was modified to fit the approach, and other companies followed-the-leader. They have since backed off of the excessive hammer weight, but since pianists became accustomed to that kind of feel, it is difficult to go all the way back to the way that it is supposed to be." -443


Heavy hammers for more volume.. and since volume seems to be be-all and end-all to piano sound, if we are to observe the development of the piano over the last 200 years, here is the reason.

like a balance that is made of steel and weighs a ton, if perfectly balanced and without friction, it is possible to tip the scale with a few grams but the heavier the action, like on a pendulum, the lower the resonant frequency, the slower the possible speed that the action can acquire.

also CHANGES in speed become impossible, so that if a pianist naturally presses the key slowly halfway and then accelerates to escapement or vice-versa, with a heavy key, the inertia is such that the movement is always smoothed-over

heavy weights also ruin technique, not only because you are essentially playing against a 'neutreal' element, which is dead weight, but because all it takes to get a key to play sometimes is to hit it briefly, using the inertia of the key to follow-through, without having good finger-control.

basically, pianists who play on heavy actions tend to play with weight to the extent that finger-action (which becomes very difficult if not impossible) is sacrificed.

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.


Edited by acortot (06/27/14 06:32 PM)
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An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario

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#2295900 - 06/27/14 06:32 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: A443
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
[...] this statement ignores the limiting effect of compliance, which determines the saturation point of the system. Heavier hammers lower that point, regardless of the weight of the key.
Ed Foote, I am interested in better understanding your compliance concept and how that relates to the piano. Would you mind please explaining this further?

You seem to be contradicting my statement: the action geometry determines the limits of the system. Let me reinforce my point, with regards to the hammer mass and not yet factoring in any conditions at the key. If we were to increase the action geometry from c.5:1 to 10:1, it would be necessary to dramatically decrease the hammer weight in order for the system to function (i.e., if not, the keys would too heavy to accelerate for musical use); the inverse is also true: if the action geometry is decreased from c.5:1 to 2:1, the system could accommodate a heavier hammer mass without becoming saturated.

That is a very important consideration, ignored by most modern technicians/rebuilders/manufactures, which has significant impacts on how the action feels to the pianists. If they choose to exceed the maximum weight that the action geometry can accelerate, the maximum hammer speed and the controllability of softer dynamics will be effected; the more these limits are exceeded, the greater detriment to playability and performance of the piano.


if the pianist cannot feel the action going near saturation then let it release the accumulated energy while accompanying the motion, some type of playing cannot be envisaged.
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#2295906 - 06/27/14 06:40 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
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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?


it have the advantage of taking in account the slightly different ratio at the end and at the start, creates a mean .

it is a try to have a number that relates a bit with inertia.
the numbers provide a reference scale that seem to be useable.
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#2295932 - 06/27/14 08:20 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
bkw58 Offline

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Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1779
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"...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.
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#2295937 - 06/27/14 08:40 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Gadzar Offline
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Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1851
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: A443
Originally Posted By: Gadzar
[...]when the key is depressed it pushes up the whippen. Then the hammer checks and the system locks, it is at rest. The whippen is pushing down on the capstan, by its own weight and mainly by the push of the repetition spring. When the key is released it returns by the means of two forces: the weight of the key and the push of the whippen. IMO, the push of the repetition spring is greater than the weight of both the whippen and the key. The higher the mass of the key, the slower the returning.
Gadzar, I would like to ask you et al. to please go to a piano and test your theory; the theory is easy to prove incorrect.

Hold the key to the point immediately prior to escapement (i.e., so that the repetition spring playings no role in your observations, since it is not engaged in the system). Then temporally place a few leads near the capstan (i.e., loosely on top the key) and notice the change in return speed of the key. Compare it to surrounding notes. You should be able to observe a noticeable increase in speed with your eyes, without any special measuring equipment.

Now transfer the leads to the opposite side of the fulcrum, but this time go through escapement and into check (i.e., so the repetition spring is engaged). From this dead stop, you should now notice the key return speed is significantly slower, and the spring is, in fact, not enough to properly return the key to the starting position--most likely, the key will fail to fully return to the original starting position.

This should be enough evidence to confirm that your theory does not apply to the piano's system as you've described. If you would like do further testing, to confirm these results, I'd be happy to provide you with other methodologies.


Maybe you are right. But, for what I know, lead in keys is used to regulate the weight of the keys to at the desired value, say 52 gr., and then the repetition spring is used to adjust the resetting of the escapement lever.

If you use the lead in the keys to adjust repetition speed, aren't you disturbing the weight of the keys?
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#2295943 - 06/27/14 09:07 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gadzar]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gadzar
But, for what I know, lead in keys is used to regulate the weight of the keys to at the desired value, say 52 gr., and then the repetition spring is used to adjust the resetting of the escapement lever.
Kind of, but not exactly. Lead in the keys has always been used to balance out the weight of the hammers in the system: the heavier the hammers, the more lead in the keys--assuming everything else stays the same.

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
If you use the lead in the keys to adjust repetition speed, aren't you disturbing the weight of the keys?
Yes: absolutely. There are other variables that you would need to change. If you simply add more weight to the back of the keys (i.e., increasing the down weight), the keys will start to feel impossibly heavy. The objective it to get the keys to return faster, without the whole system going beyond its limits.
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#2295946 - 06/27/14 09:12 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: bkw58
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.
Are you suggesting that S&S is the only company with a significant action problem? Or are you saying that S&S is the only action that shouldn't, for some random reason, be corrected? Either way, no one has so far been talking about using non-S&S parts. Would you like to start that discussion? Or should we maybe leave that for another thread?
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#2295951 - 06/27/14 09:44 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: BDB]
Gadzar Offline
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Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1851
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: BDB
Unless the string is vibrating in another mode, the frequency is the fundamental. There is only one string. There are no other strings vibrating at any other frequencies.


Here you go BDB!

Once again you say partials are not present in the one-tone we hear when a piano string vibrates.

Yes, one single string vibrates with several different frequencies at the same time. They are known as harmonics and in piano strings with iH they are called Partials.

Beats are the proof of the existence of partials.

Tuning forks are made to have a strong fundamental and almost no harmonics or partials at all. So you can make the following experiment to check the existence of partials in a piano note and the absence of those same partials in the tone produced by the tuning fork:

Play the major third F4-A4, you'll hear beats. Those beats come from the 5th partial of F4 and the 4th partial of A4. The rate of these beats is the difference of the frequencies of these two partials. Now play the F4 in the piano and sound an A 440 fork, you will hear no beats. Why? Because the tuning fork produces no 4th partial.

Now play the M10th F3-A4 at the piano, you hear beats again. The 5th partial of F3 is beating with the 2nd partial of F4. But if you play F3 and sound the A 440 fork you'll hear no beats, because the 2nd partial of the fork is way too weak to be heared.

Now play the M17th F2-A4, you hear beats, the 5th partial of F2 is beating with the fundamental, first partial, of A4. Now play F2 and sound the A 440 tuning fork. This time you do hear beats, the 5th partial of F2 is beating with the 1st partial or fundamental of the tuning fork.

This proves the presence of partials 2 and 4 in the piano note A4 and also the presence of the 5th partial in the piano notes F2, F3 and F4.

Ghosting tones will also prove the exitence and presence of several partials in all piano notes.

But I know that this will not convince you. So I will show you the following high speed video of a vibrating piano string.

In this video we can see how the string vibrates simultaneously in all its length, at half the length, and at 1/3rd of its length, etc... all at the same time, and we can appreciate the different frequencies of each vibration.

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.





Edited by Gadzar (06/27/14 10:59 PM)
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#2295958 - 06/27/14 10:15 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Posts: 1438
"the video is private"
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#2295961 - 06/27/14 10:22 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
Ed Foote Offline
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Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1186
Loc: Tennessee
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,


Edited by Ed Foote (06/27/14 10:25 PM)

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#2295964 - 06/27/14 10:29 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Gadzar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 1851
Loc: Mexico City
Originally Posted By: A443
"the video is private"


Sorry, I thought private videos were accessible to people with the link.

I've made it public.
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rafaelmelo@afinacionpianos.com.mx

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http://www.afinacionpianos.com.mx

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#2296050 - 06/28/14 04:29 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5317
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: A443
OK, so you are saying that compliance = action saturation? If so, I would rather use the term action saturation then.

Yes: in, general, adding weight to the key will increase the flex, which contributes to action saturation. Action saturation, in essence, is wasted or misdirect energy.

Action saturation is simply that point at which the key bottoms out against the front rail punching before the hammer starts to move.

In the real world there is always a delay between the time the key is struck and the time the hammer begins to move. This is due to a number of factors including, but not limited to:
— The compliance of all of the various bits of felt and leather.
— The flexibility of all of the different components of the action (the key being the most significant culprit).
— The mass of the hammer.

With a soft blow—pianissimo—the movement of a light hammer and a heavy hammer relative to the motion of the front of the key is approximately the same. Here there is a fairly direct relationship between the velocity of the front of the key and the velocity of the hammer. In other words, if the overall action ratio is, say, 5.5 : 1 the velocity of the hammer will be &#8776; 5.5 times that of the key.

This changes as the speed, or acceleration, at the front of the key increases. At faster key velocities the velocity of the velocity of the hammer will no longer be in a direct relationship to that of the front of the key; it will be somewhat less. Nor will its initial motion be tied directly to that of the key: the hammer will start moving somewhat after the front of the key begins it movement. There is a time lag between the motion of the key and the motion of the hammer. How much of a time lag will be a function of the bending and the compression of the various action parts.

As well, the velocity of the hammer will no longer be a direct multiple of the velocity of the front of the key. It will be somewhat less. How much less will be primarily dependent on the mass of the hammer. As others have pointed out, F = MA. Or, A = F/M. With the added complexity that the force applied to set the hammer in motion is not directly proportional to the force applied to the front of the key.

But—almost none of this has much bearing on the original question about the practice of back-loading the keys of vertical piano actions.

This practice got started because pianists complained that the “touch weight” of vertical actions was so much “lighter” than that of grand pianos. They wanted the vertical action to “feel” more like that of the grand action. The simple solution was to place leads at the back of the keys making the static down weight roughly similar to that of grands. It did little, if anything, to improve—or alter in any way—either the repetition speed or the reliability of the vertical action but this was never the intent of the modification. (Unless, of course, there was something amiss with the geometry or function—friction, etc.—of the action.)

Repetition in a vertical action is a function of many different factors several of which have not been discussed here. Some of these are:
— The angle of the action in relationship with the string plane.
— The strength of the hammer butt spring.
— The strength of the damper lever spring.
— The relationship of the hammer’s center of gravity in relation to the action center of the hammer butt.
— The relationship of the rotating mass of the wippen in relation to that of the key.

We use the terms “light hammers” and “heavy hammers” rather loosely in these discussions; five pound and 100 pound lead balls are freely tossed around. In real terms—in real piano hammers—there is not all that much difference between the two extremes. In modern piano construction practice a “light” A-1 upright hammer might have a mass of somewhere around 8 or 9 grams. A heavy A-1 upright hammer might run up to 11 or 12 grams (though this would, I think, be unusual). At C-88 the range will be somewhere between 3.5 and 5 grams. (There may be some that come in under or above these numbers but I’ve not been able to actually weigh them.)

These differences may not seem to be all that great but they do have a significant impact (no pun intended) on piano tone. Generally—very generally—on a given piano lighter hammers can be somewhat less dense to give satisfactory performance while heavier hammers will need to be somewhat denser. (Note: density and mass are not the same thing. Both might be the same size but one will have more or less mass than the other.) The lighter hammer will rebound away from the string slightly—very slightly—faster. The differences will be subtle but, of course, when creating piano tone subtleties can make a considerable difference.

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
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#2296056 - 06/28/14 04:59 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
;;; edited


Edited by Olek (06/28/14 05:18 AM)
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#2296057 - 06/28/14 05:06 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
Mark R. Offline
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Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2052
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Gravity is fast, but not as fast as a spring. And gravity doesn't accelerate a heavy object any faster than a lighter one unless there is resistance to overcome. Since the only forces acting on the key when it is released are gravity and spring, and gravity doesn't care what something weighs, adding weight increases the mass ( and inertial resistance). The spring must accelerate this mass in order to reset the jack. Any additional speed that could come from additional mass falling unimpeded is counteracted by the additional work the spring must do to accelerate it. If there is some impediment, like excessive friction, then the additional weight has value, otherwise, my experience is that it is of limited use and often counterproductive. Thus my original statement that if more weight on the back of the key speeds up the repetition, there is something else wrong.


Ed, if I may,

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.
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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
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
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
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
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
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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
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

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Registered: 03/14/09
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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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#2296095 - 06/28/14 09:25 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
James Carney Offline
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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+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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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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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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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
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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
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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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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 Offline
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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: 2210
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
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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
_________________________
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Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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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
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2210
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.
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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: 348
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
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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
_________________________
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Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
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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: 1779
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: 1186
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: 1779
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.
_________________________
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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: 1438
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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#2300839 - 07/10/14 05:43 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1779
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: A443
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.


Thanks A443. You're all heart.
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2300934 - 07/10/14 11:39 PM 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: 2210
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
BKW58,
The old Steinways had very light hammers and higher than average leverage, compared to most other pianos. If when I rebuild one I use new parts that include heavier hammers and reduced leverage-I have just made a "Steinwas".

The great tradition of instrument making is to use the best materials and methods that produce the most dynamic, colorful, stable and long lasting tone qualities. That is the tradition I employ.

Now which way is the "Steinway " or "Steinwas"?
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2300993 - 07/11/14 06:45 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: bkw58
Originally Posted By: A443
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.


Thanks A443. You're all heart.


I apologize for A443 being rude. That is a bit of "forum effect" probably.
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#2301067 - 07/11/14 10:57 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
While I understand how/why many pianists and technicians fall victim of a corporate cult, pseudo-religious kind of mentally, there becomes a point at which it simply goes too far.

Espousing marketing mantra, without any thought or reason, and expecting other to buy those beliefs without using common sense is an affront to everything I have and continue to work for. Professional pianists need/want better pianos. They deal with what they are given, and there is nothing they can do about it. They are not getting the performance instruments they need because it would cost the manufacturer money to bring the quality back up to where it should be--it is simply a money issue.

I find it disgusting that my professional pianist friends, who devote their entire existence to their art, suffer on stage because making a better piano would slightly reduce corporate profits. This is a serious issue very close to my heart: I've devoted my entire life to uncovering piano knowledge that has been purposefully buried to save a few bucks--it is not a forum effect!

By admission, Bkw58 hasn't yet to experience these 'new' parts for himself, yet he allowed the effects of cooperate brainwashing to dictate his writings on the matter. The way I express myself may seem harsh, but to me, this is a very serious social injustice that I will continue to stand against. Bkw58, this is not personal, it is intellectual.
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#2301070 - 07/11/14 11:04 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
A443 - Why do you keep assuming that performing pianists are all suffering when playing fine pianos in excellent condition? It is simply not true that all performance pianos, in most parts of the world, aren't kept in excellent condition.

You really need to get out more and really find out what is available rather than constantly implying that you are the only one who has any skills. You rant on about what you perceive to be the condition of pianos in performance spaces.

It is simply untrue.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2301075 - 07/11/14 11:14 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
I think that if pianists are not happy with an instrument they ask it to be tweaked to their liking.

Usually the grands that come from Hamburg are well regulated and relatively stable.

They certainly can have left a few defects but shoul not cause problems.

If you look at the parts ratios, the alignments, in a Steinway grand, there are things that looks they are not right.

But it works because of a certain number of points that are respected while regulating them. The sum of the operations makes the instrument responsive and musical.

When it comes to synthetic material whippens, on one side they look as a huge improvment, on the other they filter what comes from the string/hammer impact to the key, giing a more "dstant" sensation, less "direct" may be.
While it is certainly not a big concern, it is not my ideal of expressive instrument, where all that wooden noise and ibration feedback are coherent between the key an the hammer, mostly because they are all the same material.

You have more eveness, more ease to regulate (plus the extraordinary good idea for location an choice of whippen heel and knuckle from WNG) , but I regret the synthetic part is present in the touch as something "different" .
May be only because wooden whippens are vibrating , deforming as the wooden hammer shank, while the synthetic
parts are more rigid)

On the weight side, the wooden ones are lighter, while it may not count much at that point.

Regards.


Edited by Olek (07/11/14 11:22 AM)
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#2301078 - 07/11/14 11:20 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: 2210
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Marty,
Do you think a 10YO Steinway D in a climate controlled concert hall that is used an average of 15 hours a week should be retired? That it somehow is no longer able to serve performing pianists? Steinway sales rep's often suggest this to concert venues based upon their experience with the C&A fleet, which causes many pianos to be damaged by all the moving and environmental changes they are subject to. But there are other reasons.

If so what would they be?

The way contemporary performing pianos are tone regulated is what is "wearing" them out. The old Steinways had lighter hammers in general and they last longer, and they take less hammer voicing to meet pianists needs.

Why you are so hostile to technicians who are treating pianists with great respect by trying to bring back and improve what is proven to work best for them? And many of these same technicians are trying to move the technology forward for the benefit of pianists.

Yet you persist in calling us "arrogant" or "self-promoters".

Fools we may well be!
_________________________
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#2301086 - 07/11/14 11:34 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
Sure a hammer set in a concert hall is to be changed after 12 years of frequent evening of voicing or tweaks, they rarely are left more than 15. assuming the tech knows his job.

Now the ones that are moved so often for concert rental are in need of more care, not always done soon enough because of time constrain. But done at some point certainly.

And private rental "concert service" need to have some concert pianos less than 12 years old to have the agreement.

That is mostly to propose pianos that are in their best tonal range, before they stabilize in a slightly quieter mood D, then for decades.

New German pianos have generally a soundboard that is internally loaded with energy to the max, they have a "fast" voice, that may loose a little of that speed in that 12 years period.

But even then they are not "slow" soundboards.
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#2301097 - 07/11/14 12:03 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Why you are so hostile to technicians who are treating pianists with great respect by trying to bring back and improve what is proven to work best for them?

Ed, I wasn't addressing anything you said. In fact, this is to what I was responding:

Originally Posted By: A443
I find it disgusting that my professional pianist friends, who devote their entire existence to their art, suffer on stage because making a better piano would slightly reduce corporate profits.


A bit over the top, perhaps?

As a performing pianist, I simply do not find this to be the case. On the whole, performance pianos are kept in admirable condition. The world is not crashing down because of poorly kept performance pianos!

Performing pianists are not suffering in anything other than rare occasions. You, and others, are totally missing the point that I commend the fine tuner/techs who keep those instruments in performance ready condition. However, the legion of those who can work at a high level is not as small as you or others imply.

Any manufactured item can be tweeked. However, that is not due to poor quality or poor design, it is simply a difference in concept of the design and the manufacture of any product.

I simply do not believe that all new pianos need to be redesigned and/or be subjected to extensive rebuilding. Concert prep is different than a total re-do. The situation is not nearly as dire as you, and others, are implying.

What I have stated is based on my many years as a performing pianist. I am not without considerable experience and expertise.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2301112 - 07/11/14 12:52 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


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Originally Posted By: A443

By admission, Bkw58 hasn't yet to experience these 'new' parts for himself, yet he allowed the effects of cooperate brainwashing to dictate his writings on the matter. The way I express myself may seem harsh, but to me, this is a very serious social injustice that I will continue to stand against. Bkw58, this is not personal, it is intellectual.


A443:

Invariably you read into my posts things that are not there. I have neither the time nor the inclination to bandy words, and so lately I've let your comments slide. However, yours of today calls for a statement after which there shan't be another.

Your remark above is a specious syllogism based upon my reply to Ed on the previous page of this thread (p4).

I have experience with the so-called "new parts," carbon fibre, et al, first in harpsichord service and then in pianos. Specifically, I have no experience with Ed's S&S new rebuilds with his choice and use of new non-S&S parts. Nothing more. Nothing less. For this reason I have asked him if one of his S&S rebuilds might be in an area of TN. I plan to be in that area in the near future. My desire is to ascertain whether or not the touch in question is present in his S&S rebuilds. If it is, then fine. If not, then that's okay too.

If this not clear to you then so be it.
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#2301128 - 07/11/14 01:29 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Olek]
bkw58 Offline

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Registered: 03/14/09
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Originally Posted By: Olek
Originally Posted By: bkw58
Originally Posted By: A443
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.


Thanks A443. You're all heart.


I apologize for A443 being rude. That is a bit of "forum effect" probably.



Thank you, Isaac. There is no need for you to apologize. (That you do so speaks well of you.) Best wishes,
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#2301158 - 07/11/14 02:33 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: bkw58]
Ed Foote Offline
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Originally Posted By: bkw58

I have experience with the so-called "new parts," carbon fibre, et al, first in harpsichord service and then in pianos. Specifically, I have no experience with Ed's S&S new rebuilds with his choice and use of new non-S&S parts. Nothing more. Nothing less. For this reason I have asked him if one of his S&S rebuilds might be in an area of TN. I plan to be in that area in the near future. My desire is to ascertain whether or not the touch in question is present in his S&S rebuilds.


Greetings,
There are several in the practice rooms, several more out in the general public, and I think we may be moving one into an on campus facility in the very near future. Practice rooms will get their two year or three regulation before September, but that mainly consists of turning the capstans up a little. Sometimes the let-off needs to be gone through, too,but otherwise,the composite parts seem to just sit there, unfazed by the use.
Regards,

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#2301168 - 07/11/14 03:05 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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Testing was certainly done, but I wonder what tonal result can be expected by balancing the keys with some front weight plus weight at the back.

Sure the keys may flex more, but can it send more power to the whippen/hammer, ue to more mass ?

I have read that the initial success of leading FortePianas was the raise in tone power (or apparent raise , I cannot really figure), but the more you feel the key the less the hammer acceleration is "at the tip of the fingers"

As a process to lighten anything, no, it does not, it provides more inertia that can help the sensations up to some point.

Sometime the piano is played lightly and slowly, that are the only conditions where the perfect leading is perceived.
What is "funny" is that as soon you begin to accelerate more, all the unevenness show up suddenly, jump at you, ratio difference between sharps and white keys, lead placement differences, may be if the hammers moldings are leaded this is also a cause of unevenness, the lead is not on the CG but lower and farther from the axis, so unless all hammers are leaded....

The contrast between the perfect balancing and the sudden dynamic behavior is surprising.

Anyway when I tested I perceived different dynamics, and as all hammers where not leaded the same that created unevenness and also some damping of the wood noise. It of course lowered the resonance frequency of the assembly so more low partials where exited, as when a shank is cut to the size of a match.

I took out the lead and the tone opened. The wood resonance may have more activity than we believe.





Edited by Olek (07/11/14 03:31 PM)
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#2301176 - 07/11/14 03:24 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Minnesota Marty]
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Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
A443 - Why do you keep assuming that performing pianists are all suffering when playing fine pianos in excellent condition? It is simply not true that all performance pianos, in most parts of the world, aren't kept in excellent condition.

You really need to get out more and really find out what is available rather than constantly implying that you are the only one who has any skills. You rant on about what you perceive to be the condition of pianos in performance spaces.

It is simply untrue.


I couldn't have said it any better myself! Thank you Marty for expressing my very thoughts and saving me the trouble of another diatribe to A443
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#2301205 - 07/11/14 04:48 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: SMHaley]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: SMHaley
I couldn't have said it any better myself! Thank you Marty for expressing my very thoughts and saving me the trouble of another diatribe to A443
Of the hundreds of concert pianists I have worked with over the years (i.e., professional artists that devote their entire existence to their art) none of them share either of your sentiments about piano excellence on concert stages these days. Of course there are some well maintained pianos out there; that is not the point--the vast majority of them are not! I am speaking from my experience.

How many times, SMHaley, have concert pianists contacted you in an hysterical panic because the local 'concert technician' couldn't get the piano to function? How many times have you dropped everything you were doing, hopped on a plane, and worked 50+ hours non-stop on a piano so that it would function in a concert? We are not talking about high standards here: we are talking about basic functionality. I don't get called-in when the pianos are fine, I get called-in when there is no hope, no one can help, and the pianist is on a verge of a mental break down because the keys don't go up-and-down. Shame on both of you for questioning my resolve and dedication to the arts.

Do you think I do that for the money? You think there is any money in doing that? My assistants and I do want we can to help great artists--most of whom I am proud to call close friends--when they plead for our help. Sometimes it comes at an even greater cost: about five years ago, when we were about c.70 hour [straight] into emergency concert prep, one of my assistants fell into a very serious lack of sleep-induced seizure while working on stage. All of the violent uncontrolled jerking about on the ground, loss of awareness/communication, foaming at the mouth, complete unresponsiveness, was a rather traumatic experience to go through and witness. It continued until after the police and paramedics arrived to rushed him to be hospitalised; I had to stay on stage and finish the work.

Neither of you may appreciate the work that I do, but then again, neither of you know me or my work. Everything I write about comes from own personal experience. If you don't like it, please ignore my posts entirely (i.e., instead of starting in with the defamatory sentiments).

If you'd like to discuss issues relating to piano technology and the piano performing arts, that's great! That is what I am here for: there aren't very many places/ways to learn about many of the things that I have discussed so far on this site (i.e., this is clearly not book knowledge; it comes through thoughtful experiences). There is plenty more to talk about.

SMHaley, I am still waiting to hear how wide you think piano hammers should be and how to determine that size exactly (i.e., since you also like to contradict my statements without any evidence and forethought). Let's discuss it. Hammers that are too wide have a detrimental cascading affect on the entire system. How much have YOU thought about that? Before I start, what kind of insight can you share with the public on the matter?
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#2301209 - 07/11/14 05:05 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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But, hammers are wide for mass reasons, even if a part of the head is not used directly .

Centering them is possibly an advantage in time for wear, an gives a more even tone, string by string, but I stopped to think that was so important to have the 3 strings with exactly similar spectra, as long they have the same power and +- same dynamics.

There are limitations in the large dimension of the strike line, if the strings where to be more spaced at the strike, the keyboard would be larger and as it cannot really be done what happens is that the blocks are larger and the keys have a more pronounced angle, which is not excellent.

Now if the goal anyway is to have lighter hammers, sure there is some mass that can be shaped and taken out, but not all along the scale in my opinion. Also, less sharp hammers of today may be need more large felt to preserve the "active" felt rebound .

I have seen more too thick hammers in the 80's pianos than today.
That said I would not be surprised that some gremlin push the ankle of the designer when he is pouring himself a glass of hammer mass, and then he drops a little more mass, so there will be a little more power, you know the story... "the instrument can stand it" , and we finish with a 30g UW in basses...

Standards where and may be still are missing about the mass of the key, not for its inertia itself but as a sign of unue leverage somewhere.
Anyway if they exist it is only in the local culture of some factory. Out of the Stanwood measurements, this is not a common concept, while we talk in "number of leads" in the keys to say something about it.
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#2301214 - 07/11/14 05:18 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
BDB Online   content
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I have been skeptical of A443's credentials since this exchange.
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#2301217 - 07/11/14 05:29 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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BDB, can you not observe the response of the piano by how the pianist uses her body? Did you not notice how she moved her muscles? Or how quickly in acceleration the keys moved to correspond with her input? You think that is a heavy piano right there?
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#2301218 - 07/11/14 05:35 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Her arms are slightly lower, she is not having to use gravity to drop into the keys to get sound, she is relaxed, primarily using finger movement to get all the sound variation she needs/wants. She is not fighting with that piano. That is not a typical modern-day setup. Is the piano pretty? No, but it works and that 97 year old is amazing! Let me repeat: the piano works!
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#2301225 - 07/11/14 05:55 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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I sense that Dorothy's ghost is about to visit us.
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#2301236 - 07/11/14 06:28 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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Hi, I am sorry but she have to use gravity, as any pianist to be relaxed and free from arms to shoulders .

Due to the light action with worn centers and much use hammers, no way to have it heavy. I know that type of pianos, hopefully for that fine old lady it play easily.

Still there would be so much work to get really what the piano can do ...

The gravity is used as basic principle to keep the hand at the keyboard , harpsichord players eventually do not use much and keep their arms sustained a lot.
But on a piano, even if that was an old technique , she does not use it and play with a modern technique.

The hand low, allow the weight from the shoulders to flow in the keyboard easily when wanted.
That is on the contrary when the wrist is up that the pianist uses muscular force an impulse from the ankle to "enter" the keyboard with force.
But then if any note is hold the gravity immediately take the relay
The human arm even on a small or old person, weight much more than necessary to play FFFF even on a modern piano.
Now the effort on the wrist an fingers is not the same, as they receive I don't know exactly how much Kg of pressure directly induced by gravity.

The muscles at the back of the shoulders and back are here to make the arm light and free, hence the trauma pianist may experiment when they work too much, but those are relaxing as soon the hand can stay quiet of the keyboard, that mean, those muscles may learn to be instantly ready , more or less active and relax as often as possible.
That is why the good back posture matters as much, you cannot lift your arms with the shoulder muscles, this have to come from farther.

When they talk of "free fall" that is basically the back muscles that relax immediately. due to the kind of muscle they are this have to be learned and trained, as I suppose they also have some utility in our normal standing posture and tend to mobilize by themselves for different equilibrium corrections.
Keeping them mostly active for the arms imply a very strong position from the feet, legs and bottom, so the equilibrium can be maintained with minimal work from the "pianistic muscles"

That is how I understand the thing, globally.

Moving much the wrist is a mean to be aware of its position in space (and avoid blocking may be) a little as the tuner that waves his tuning lever to be sure to feel the pin...

Sorry long East wind writing there...




Edited by Olek (07/11/14 06:36 PM)
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#2301248 - 07/11/14 06:45 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Olek]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Olek
Due to the light action with worn centers and much use hammers, no way to have it heavy. I know that type of pianos, hopefully for that fine old lady it play easily.
BDB says: it is a "rebuilt Steinway A (probably an A-2), not particularly well tuned, and voiced a bit bright for my taste, although that may be the tuning. The only thing that distinguishes it from modern Steinway As is the preparation."

Because I disagreed that it looked like a "modern Steinway" by seeing how the nice lady is able to press the keys, he seemed to feel the need to question my "credentials" as opposed to my judgment.

My judgment remains: that is NOT a "modern Steinway" in terms of action response. Anyone with experience looking at pianists to see how they respond to the piano, in order to know needs to be done next to fix the situation, can see this pretty quickly. That is not a heavy "modern Steinway" rebuilt to today's standards.

Shall we talk about other issues that one can 'see' regarding the piano, based on experience and careful observation?


Edited by A443 (07/11/14 07:02 PM)
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#2301257 - 07/11/14 07:02 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
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I would think a C or a D, while I dont know if the "smaller" models share that particular shape.
DUe to the way the tone rise in power , it cannot be a small one I think.

But I like to see the hammers wink are they in you taste A443 (flat & light ?) this take some plage of dynamics out of the game, and we hear the noise of not firm centers when she play stronger (plus a goo tone of the sliding impacts on the wire)

Eevn in that worn out shape they could be voiced so the impact is more discrete and the hammer get faster off the strings.
It works here because the knuckles are at 16 mm an the hammer is more accelerate than on today actions, more linearly too.

So the faster impact helps a lot the rebound.
The tone is also less "hidden", more immediate, in that case , with a pronounced presence, and less need for mass or hard/dense hammer (while it is of course hard under the crown)

With unlaquered but "recovered" original hammers, on that type of instrument, it can take 8 years to attain the wanted concentrated energy at impact, but at some point it is there, when the strings imprints are large enough an the felt packed enough.

Always temped to use some lacquer beforethen but all the pianos I have seen in that situation where in flats with neighbors so we did not. I think I should but may be with rosin under the crown, may be it does not kill the resiliency as much.

Anyway at some point the recovered hammer acts really well and provide a good dynamic plague. One need to be really patient..





Edited by Olek (07/11/14 07:07 PM)
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#2301268 - 07/11/14 07:34 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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Nothing in that piano sound/tone is to my taste. But it works (i.e., the keys move up-and-down how she wants them to without struggling). <<<------ that is the main thing that matters most to me.

My observations had to do with the responsiveness of the keys due to properly functioning alignment of the parts and lighter than modern-day hammers. For these observations, my 'credentials' were taken into question by BDB. I want to know why.

BDB, what are your observations and why?
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#2301290 - 07/11/14 08:28 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Olek Offline
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Originally Posted By: A443
Nothing in that piano sound/tone is to my taste. But it works (i.e., the keys move up-and-down how she wants them to without struggling). <<<------ that is the main thing that matters most to me.

My observations had to do with the responsiveness of the keys due to properly functioning alignment of the parts and lighter than modern-day hammers. For these observations, my 'credentials' were taken into question by BDB. I want to know why.

BDB, what are your observations and why?


Hi nevermind A443 it is forums, we better fight that tendency than go along with, there is enough to read yet wink
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#2301331 - 07/11/14 11:43 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
BDB Online   content
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I said what my observations were. "Why" should have been obvious to anyone with a reasonable amount of experience with pianos.
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#2301335 - 07/12/14 12:02 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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OK, BDB, I see: you'd rather continue to lob insults instead of discussing why you are wrong about your analysis of that piano. Should you ever change your mind, do let me know: there are many things that you missed and I would be more than happy to go over them with you.
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#2301341 - 07/12/14 12:21 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Marty,
Yes, A443's statements can seem over the top. However he has independently verified the standards I documented in my 1980's book. So he has done his homework.

How long should a piano last with serious use? This is a question modern piano makers never want to delve into. My work has shown that going back to the old style light hammers and high leverage actions makes for a far more durable and stable piano.

I know touring performers don't want to worry about this, but they should, because it affects the economics of the business of public piano performance.
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#2301345 - 07/12/14 12:35 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I know touring performers don't want to worry about this, but they should, because it affects the economics of the business of public piano performance.

To play the devil's advocate, wouldn't less durable pianos, which need to be replaced more frequently, be better for the broad economics of the entire profession? That way, the builders of the great pianos wouldn't have to compete against themselves in the aftermarket sales arena.
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#2301350 - 07/12/14 12:53 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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MARTY,
Venues might give up on real pianos altogether, and go to digitals. Concert series might give up on piano recitals completely. They already are shrinking from past levels, especially proportionate to population growth.

I think more durable, dynamic, colorful, and ergonomically friendly performing pianos would be good for the public piano performance trade. And for the piano trade in general, because the investment would make more sense if more durable.

Then if you consider that there are new materials and methods that are obvious in the possible benefit to piano quality-and that piano manufacturers have almost no R&D-you can see that the industry is stumbling under the weight of history-and they can not find a way to make a truly modern piano that eclipses anything achieved in the past. This is the way to change the market-acheive new designs, utilizing new materials and methods that solve the quality, durability, and manufacturing process issues in pianos.
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#2301494 - 07/12/14 11:55 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
BDB Online   content
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What I said was that what can be verified from the video is that the piano is an old Steinway A that has been extensively rebuilt. Anyone who views the interior shots of the piano should be able to see this.

What this A433 fellow claims is that he can tell the piano is original, which can be seen by the technique of the nonagenarian playing it.

How many of you see what I see, and how many see what he sees?
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#2301497 - 07/12/14 12:02 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Minnesota Marty]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
To play the devil's advocate, wouldn't less durable pianos, which need to be replaced more frequently, be better for the broad economics of the entire profession? That way, the builders of the great pianos wouldn't have to compete against themselves in the aftermarket sales arena.
This makes absolutely no sense (i.e., the concept is not well-thought out). If the pianos are less durable, and replaced more often, there will be more of that piano competing in the aftermarket via rebuilders. However, more importantly, one of the main hallmarks of a great piano builder IS durability: pianos that are unstable in tuning, voicing, and regulation by definition are not made by great piano builders.
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#2301500 - 07/12/14 12:06 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: BDB]
A454.7 Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
What this A433 fellow claims is that he can tell the piano is original, which can be seen by the technique of the nonagenarian playing it.
You have entirely missed the point. Of course it has been fiddled around with over the years. But, the setup has not been altered, like technicians in the US do all the time to conform to 'modern' standards using 'genuine' parts.


Edited by A443 (07/12/14 12:08 PM)
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#2301518 - 07/12/14 12:54 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: A454.7]
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Originally Posted By: A443
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
To play the devil's advocate, wouldn't less durable pianos, which need to be replaced more frequently, be better for the broad economics of the entire profession? That way, the builders of the great pianos wouldn't have to compete against themselves in the aftermarket sales arena.
This makes absolutely no sense (i.e., the concept is not well-thought out). If the pianos are less durable, and replaced more often, there will be more of that piano competing in the aftermarket via rebuilders. However, more importantly, one of the main hallmarks of a great piano builder IS durability: pianos that are unstable in tuning, voicing, and regulation by definition are not made by great piano builders.

Apparently you have no clue what "devil's advocate" means!
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#2301524 - 07/12/14 01:07 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
A454.7 Offline
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I know what it means: you just don't know how to play devil's advocate very well. It is not intended to be a snarky and sarcastic opposition, it is intended to inspire further debate and test weaknesses in structure.

Can you tell the difference? Or, do you need more help?
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#2301790 - 07/13/14 08:15 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed Foote]
bkw58 Offline

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Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1779
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: bkw58

I have experience with the so-called "new parts," carbon fibre, et al, first in harpsichord service and then in pianos. Specifically, I have no experience with Ed's S&S new rebuilds with his choice and use of new non-S&S parts. Nothing more. Nothing less. For this reason I have asked him if one of his S&S rebuilds might be in an area of TN. I plan to be in that area in the near future. My desire is to ascertain whether or not the touch in question is present in his S&S rebuilds.


Greetings,
There are several in the practice rooms, several more out in the general public, and I think we may be moving one into an on campus facility in the very near future. Practice rooms will get their two year or three regulation before September, but that mainly consists of turning the capstans up a little. Sometimes the let-off needs to be gone through, too,but otherwise,the composite parts seem to just sit there, unfazed by the use.
Regards,


Thanks, Ed.
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#2301803 - 07/13/14 09:02 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1779
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
BKW58,
The old Steinways had very light hammers and higher than average leverage, compared to most other pianos. If when I rebuild one I use new parts that include heavier hammers and reduced leverage-I have just made a "Steinwas".

The great tradition of instrument making is to use the best materials and methods that produce the most dynamic, colorful, stable and long lasting tone qualities. That is the tradition I employ.

Now which way is the "Steinway " or "Steinwas"?


Thanks, Ed. The point is that the S&S touch in question is more likely to be achieved with Steinway technology. (I did not say it was impossible):

"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."

No doubt a good rebuilt S&S with non-S&S parts is desired by some. I have serviced both rebuilt S&S and S&S hybrids for many years - more of the latter since many (including dealers) do not want to pay the higher cost of the former.

By definition, the action is the "mechanism that allows the pianists fingers to connect to the strings." A properly regulated S&S brings that "connection" ever so closer. This was my point.

Have a great day.



Edited by bkw58 (07/13/14 09:09 AM)
Edit Reason: insert parenthesis, typo
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Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2301828 - 07/13/14 11:37 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1512
Loc: Old Hangtown California
When you get into modifying the SS action you find that the NY whippen cannot be modified.
If key capstans need to be relocated the whippen heal cannot be relocated to match up with it so the Hamburg Renner whip is a good way to go and this will retain the "all Steinway" image that so many are mystified by.
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#2301836 - 07/13/14 12:11 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
I find the precise adjusting of the stack really matters. As the good size for the jack.

I will keep original geometry on all older models, more sparkle, faster hammer, it compensates well the old panel, also with light enough hammers)

On larger models the modern parts can be mounted, but that imply some imbalance with the keyboard and tweaks are necessary.
The small key dip will be lost anyway.
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#2302862 - 07/16/14 02:55 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Gene Nelson]
Zjones4 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/28/14
Posts: 4
Originally Posted By: Gene Nelson
Olek-
If you want more power - stronger tone - why not weight the hammer?
1/2 gram of brass or lead rod in the moulding does wonders.
It will make your touch heavier by 5 or six times the 1/2 gram and it is easier to do.
Also, the heavier down weight will be combined with a increased upweight of about the same amount minus a little friction making the action faster.
This works only if your action is not too heavy already.


My question is this... Would the extra weight placed on a hammer create more stress, thus reducing the life of the bushings, hammer felt, and possibly the same to the jacks? Perhaps this weight is so small, it is insignificant to the natural wear an action already experiences?

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#2302977 - 07/16/14 10:48 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: 2210
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I have found the best way to make a grand action heavier is to reduce the number of front key leads. As the sum total inertia of the action drops-static touch weight needs to rise above the 50-55gram "standard" most factories employ.
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#2303020 - 07/16/14 12:39 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I have found the best way to make a grand action heavier is to reduce the number of front key leads. As the sum total inertia of the action drops-static touch weight needs to rise above the 50-55gram "standard" most factories employ.


Of course it is a neat way, but having the keys "glued" to the fingers is not as much appreciated so UW must be kept reasonable In my opinion.

If only it could work the other way around !!
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#2303028 - 07/16/14 01:06 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Olek]
A454.7 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/12
Posts: 1438
Originally Posted By: Olek
Of course it is a neat way, but having the keys "glued" to the fingers is not as much appreciated so UW must be kept reasonable In my opinion.
What is reasonable in your opinion?

I did some testing to try and find out what the limits were, as I took the hammers lighter. While your statement is absolutely correct for modernly weighted hammers, lighter hammers allows for a much higher UW that, in my experience, pianists not only appreciate, but actually use to their enjoyment and benefit. They leaned into the keys more and find a nicer balance (i.e., they had a better centre of gravity in the seated position; they didn't need to 'lift' their hand's as much, the piano propel it forward). Moreover, the repetition speeds greatly improve.

There are limits, however: extremely quick at-the-top-of-the key playing is not benefit from higher UWs. I'm not exactly sure what the limits are for every hammer weight and action geometry setup yet, but, in general, if the intent is to have optimal in-the-key repetition function, my experiments so far indicate that at least +60g DW is necessary to get the system to repeat ideally. If the action feels too heavy at +60g DW, then the hammer weight and/or the action geometry ratios should be altered.
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#2303050 - 07/16/14 01:54 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
There may be some parameters as you say that go together with the action ratio and the hammer mass.

Very possible that a 40 g UW with light hammers can be good.
But DW must be higher at the same time.

Also the more leave the keys the more it breaks the natural return motion of the hammer, so we are in different plagues, as always with the hammer/action ratio couple first, the key mass last..

I did once a concert grand without any lead, Schwander action with strong assist springs responsible for all the balancing.
About 40g UW.

I was surprised that the pianist did appreciate and told me he was feeling better the hammer, despite a less good return of the parts, where the hammer an the whippens are each on their own at some regimes.
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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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#2303561 - 07/18/14 12:40 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: 2210
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I have done many actions with low inertia and the static DW in the low bass is 70grams. Pianists do not perceive it as heavy-in fact they often feel them as light.

I also asked technicians to guess at the DW by moving the keys slowly-they invariably underestimate the DW by 10 to 15 grams.
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#2303567 - 07/18/14 12:55 AM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7901
Loc: France
Ed, a simple conclusion would be that the ratio DW UW must be within certain limits to be felt as good.
We are back at the hammer wink



Edited by Olek (07/18/14 12:55 AM)
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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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#2304517 - 07/20/14 07:01 PM Re: Why and why not adding lead weight to key [Re: Weiyan]
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2376
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Interesting subject...this dw issue came up last week with my player piano tech.

I have had great success with the "Touchrail" add-on to my M&H BB....I don't play the piano, the machines do...:)....therefore, it's necessary to present the most even dw possible...for a piano mechanism like the Ampico or Duo-Art, this touchrail has evened out the dweight to a finer degree than before. We are using 52 grm as the dweight...this is the ideal dw for the Ampico. We were able to get all the keys to that spec, however, the lowest 15+ bass notes are not quite right....rather than install stronger Touchrail springs, my tech suggests we add a small amount of lead weight to each key, and possibly reduce the hammer weight, either one. He did say if we add too much weight, it will affect the repetition, and might cause those notes to be a bit sluggish....don't want that!

The LX system however, can compensate for those low notes now....using "even play", the manual adjustment of each note through the LX software/remote control. However, I would like to get those low notes fixed properly so the Ampico can be at it's best.





Edited by Grandpianoman (07/20/14 07:36 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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