Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

Trying Something New with Search
(ad)
Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
100 registered (AndrewJCW, ando, BachToTheFuture, 36251, BB666, 26 invisible), 1144 Guests and 3 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#2507776 - 02/06/16 01:12 AM Tone of light soft hammers
Klavimaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 72
Loc: NY, Manhattan and Dumbo/Brookl...
Modern concert grands developed to have heavy and hard hammers for volume in large halls with large orchestras.
Can anyone comment on how light and soft hammers should affect the overtone spectrum, the attack, the control over shades of tone production? Furthermore would a light hammer profit from lower string tension or thinner strings in the treble? Finally has anyone compared conventional copper wound with steel wound bass strings in terms of sound?

Top
(ad 568) PTG Convention Norfolk
PTG Convention Norfolk
#2507782 - 02/06/16 02:05 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1510
Loc: Michigan
Do you have a particular application in mind or is this a speculative, academic debate type of question?

There are more factors that affect a valid answer than what you specify. The more detailed and real-world you can make your inquiry, the more worthwhile an answer may be.

If you are looking for some universal principle of what "light/soft hammers do", there may be no definitive answer. In any event, the assumption that hammers have to be heavy and hard in order to achieve volume may be fallacious.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
Editor, Piano Technicians Journal
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

Top
#2507786 - 02/06/16 02:35 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Klavimaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 72
Loc: NY, Manhattan and Dumbo/Brookl...
I was more interested in a general discussion of how these factors influence sound also in light of the sound of historcal instruments versus modern instruments.

Top
#2507821 - 02/06/16 06:42 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: kpembrook]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2528
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By kpembrook
Do you have a particular application in mind or is this a speculative, academic debate type of question?

There are more factors that affect a valid answer than what you specify. The more detailed and real-world you can make your inquiry, the more worthwhile an answer may be.

If you are looking for some universal principle of what "light/soft hammers do", there may be no definitive answer. In any event, the assumption that hammers have to be heavy and hard in order to achieve volume may be fallacious.

+1 That question encompasses limited aspects of piano building that would require a book-length response, and it's likely that 20 books would produce 20 different opinions.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

Top
(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#2507881 - 02/06/16 10:46 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1834
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Glue up samples of different hammers on shanks.
Lift the damper and try to strike the string as close to strike point as possible.
Listen to differences.
It's not a perfect example but it is an example of what different hammers can do.
Easier and more effective in the bass for tone color, not so much for power.


Edited by Gene Nelson (02/06/16 10:47 AM)
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

Top
#2507890 - 02/06/16 11:19 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 3587
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
If you can find a Steinway, Bosendorfer, Beckstein, Chickering, Baldwin or Mason & Hamlin grand from prior to WWII in still original and good condition you can hear lighter, softer hammers.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com

Top
#2507936 - 02/06/16 12:58 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Klavimaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 72
Loc: NY, Manhattan and Dumbo/Brookl...
"If you are looking for some universal principle of what "light/soft hammers do", there may be no definitive answer."
As a scientist I was very much hoping that at least a limited and manageable set of rules have been identified hopefully explainable by physics derived empirically by piano builders and technicians over the years -after all pianos have been around for a while.
This could initially come as a simple list or technical elements with increasing and decreasing parameters and their potential effects. If one wanted to be more scientific about it one could eventually draw it as a 3D network with values.

Top
#2507974 - 02/06/16 03:17 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1834
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Do a google search for dr Russell at Kettering university
He has some piano hammer studies
Can't recall if it was heavy or light but some good info and maybe a good place to start investigating
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

Top
#2508086 - 02/06/16 10:46 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 3587
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
The primary physics of the hammer string interaction is the relation between the periods of the string and the inertia of the hammers. The secondary thing is the non-linear elasticity of the hammer felt.

This is complicated by the wide frequency range of the compass, the psycho-acoustics of musical perception, and the feel of the action. These physical elements must be graduated across the compass in a way that maximizes the production of musically intelligible sound. And the feel of the action must allow the pianist rapid, reliable feedback regarding dynamic output and repetition. The action needs to have an "intuitive" feel that allows for maximum feedback to the fingers about what the hammer is doing and when it is doing it.

The first class I took on tone-regulation was given by Fred Drasche at the 1972 PTG convention. Fred was head tone-regulator at Steinway NY. He was in his early 60's than and had been working at Steinway since he was about 16, if I remember correctly.

The first words he said was, "the hammer has got to get away from the string". He next said, "the voicer puts the tone in the hammer with the shape".

I have spent many years working out the relationship between the inertia of the hammer and the feel of the action. The result is a tone-regulation protocol I call, LightHammer Tone Regulation, (LHTR).

The simplest description I can give of LHTR is that that the tone regulators job is to shape the hammers to reduce dimensions on every surface, (except the strike surface), to reduce the mass enough that the feel of the action becomes very precise when playing softly. This feel has to be achieved with almost no leads in the keys so as to avoid too high hammer inertia. In essence the hammers are made oversize and must be fit to the piano. There is no magic perfect hammer weight for any particular note, the weight must be proportioned both to the string periods and to the leverage of the action.

The first pianos of Cristofori had extremely light hammers. There was open space between the striking surface and the wood moulding. These hammers did not wear well and most of his pianos got converted to harpsichord actions because the techs concluded it too much bother to duplicate them. (This is an assumption on my part as I don't have any historical references to prove this. But being a tech gives me some intuition on how they may have been thinking).

Where too heavy hammers most obviously impede the tone of a piano is in the treble. When the fundamental frequency hits four digits hammer inertia become critical. You can recognize the sound of heavy hammers in the treble by the PFFTHHAT sound at impact. The tone sounds like a singer with a lisp! This sound is the string "buzzing" against the hammer felt through several periods before it rebound fully. Also the heavy hammer imparts a more "woody" knock during impact that is carried by the plate and action parts. Heavy hammers also wear faster and brighten up faster.

Most pianos have hammers that are heavier than they need to be.


Edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT (02/06/16 10:47 PM)
Edit Reason: clarity
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com

Top
#2508179 - 02/07/16 10:53 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3518
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
If the hammer is too heavy, the tone chokes. The tone is also slower to develop, and you will hear more of the percussive element at the attack. Heavier hammers dampen higher partials, but harder hammers bring out more of the higher partials.
If the hammer is too light, the sound is weak and thin. If the hammer is too soft, you get a weak/dead sound. If the hammer is too uniform in hardness ( or softness) you get less color variety.
Sometimes the hammer weight may sound great for one piece of music but be too heavy/light for something else, so ideal hammer weight, as with most things piano, is the best compromise one can come up with.
The ideal hammer weight is also a function of the acoustic of the room. In a dead space you may want one hammer weight and voicing, and in an extremely live space something entirely different, on the same piano, may work much better.
This is an extremely complex subject because there are so many variables separate from hammer weight that affect the sound and perception of sound.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

Top
#2508196 - 02/07/16 12:09 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1834
Loc: Old Hangtown California
But: that heavy hammer can move the string more efficiently giving more power and definition of partials. Heavy don't mean excessive.
Also the felt quality makes a huge difference giving the hammer that nonlinear spring that assists getting it off the string so it don't mute partials.
Isaac hammers are great for this.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

Top
#2508228 - 02/07/16 01:31 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 3587
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I have seen no evidence that the spring rate of the felt plays any role in the rebound of the hammer from the string. The spring rate for hammer felt is much slower than the spring rate of the strings. You can watch hammer felt return from compression, string movement is a blur of motion.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com

Top
#2508232 - 02/07/16 01:47 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1834
Loc: Old Hangtown California
A spring is a spring.
Soak it with lacquer and it's gone and that's not really voicing.
Slow is better than no.
It all counts.
For no or musical noise especially in treble it becomes a fine line between getting 88 to sound like note 88 or hitting the plate with the hammer. Spring don't matter much up there.
I can do it with a variety of hammers without too much difficulty.
Some capos are suspect of casting flaws too - air bubble can kill a nore.
In general a big heavy soft resilient springy hammer will push the string and a small rock hard hammer will bounce off and the result sound extremes are mush and ear piercing brilliance
Neither are desirable.


Edited by Gene Nelson (02/07/16 02:55 PM)
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

Top
#2508327 - 02/07/16 08:37 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Klavimaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 72
Loc: NY, Manhattan and Dumbo/Brookl...
Thank you all for your insightful comments. Does anyone want to comment on the thickness of strings, tension and copper vs. steel wound base strings?

Top
#2508336 - 02/07/16 09:07 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 3587
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I am curious why you need to know these things? What are you trying to accomplish?
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com

Top
#2508340 - 02/07/16 09:30 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2528
Loc: Maine
This site and a whole host of others are available through an online search.

Ed's question is pertainant.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

Top
#2508359 - 02/07/16 11:27 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23778
Loc: Oakland
For a given length and pitch, the thicker (heavier) the string, the higher the tension. Also, the thicker the string, the higher the breaking strength, in proportion so the percentage of the breaking strength remains the same. The sound that you get changes quite a bit as the tension changes, so any correlation between the percentage of breaking strength and changes in sound is dubious, at best.

Most of what people say about piano sound and the relation to physics and math is not well grounded.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2508430 - 02/08/16 11:04 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 3587
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
BDB is completely out of the mainstream regarding consideration of break-point and tone. Many piano technicians have independently come to a different conclusion.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com

Top
#2508437 - 02/08/16 11:17 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23778
Loc: Oakland
Which confirms what I said: Most of what people say about piano sound and the relation to physics and math is not well grounded.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2508440 - 02/08/16 11:26 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: BDB]
ando Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 4748
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By BDB
For a given length and pitch, the thicker (heavier) the string, the higher the tension. Also, the thicker the string, the higher the breaking strength, in proportion so the percentage of the breaking strength remains the same. The sound that you get changes quite a bit as the tension changes, so any correlation between the percentage of breaking strength and changes in sound is dubious, at best.

Most of what people say about piano sound and the relation to physics and math is not well grounded.


BDB, are you sure it's directly proportional? Given the cross section of a wire is a circle, that would suggest that the wire gains mass at an exponential rate as you increase the diameter. It seems counterintuitive to me that the breaking strength remains in identical proportion to the tension. And if it doesn't, that lends credence to all this new-fangled scaling business. I studied this many years ago, but I've forgotten it. When I get time I'll look up the equations for wire strength and tension. But I'm pretty sure tension increases faster than diameter because of the square of the radius of a circle. I'll have to look into the calculation for wire strength to confirm this - I recall it's something to do with Young's modulus.

If you already know the calculations and can show that everything remains proportional, it would be helpful if you can show the equations.

Top
#2508446 - 02/08/16 11:44 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23778
Loc: Oakland
Wire gains mass proportional to the cross-sectional area. Wire gains breaking strength proportional to the cross-sectional area. It is as simple as that.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2508447 - 02/08/16 11:46 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 3587
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
All piano wire breaks at the same pitch. This means that as the diameter increases and the tension increases the break point stays the same in relation to pitch.

The above truism does diverge slightly as you go to the smaller gages common to piano scales.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com

Top
#2508448 - 02/08/16 11:54 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: BDB]
ando Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 4748
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By BDB
Wire gains mass proportional to the cross-sectional area. Wire gains breaking strength proportional to the cross-sectional area. It is as simple as that.


Ok, thanks. So is it your contention that people rescaling pianos are wasting their time, or that it does work, but the parameters they are working with to explain it are invalid?

Top
#2508463 - 02/08/16 12:48 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: ando]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23778
Loc: Oakland
Rescaling works. I rescale to minimize changes in tension. The result is more uniform volume and more stable tuning. It just has nothing to do with the percentage of breaking strength. The universality of computers makes the calculations easier than they would have when old piano scales were developed, so this is one of the few things where it is possible to improve on the original, at least sometimes. Some scales are so out of whack that they cannot be improved much.

It may be possible that other materials can make for improved scales, but experimenting with materials requires that different wire is made from different metals, and that is beyond the capability of most people.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2508538 - 02/08/16 06:15 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 329
Loc: New Hampshire
BDB, Stephen Paulello has been making his own piano wire for about 20 years, and Pure Sound Piano wire has been around for quite a while also. The work of which you speak in your last post #2508463 has been done by these people.

From Paulello's website, some pertinent information:

"The 5 types of STEPHEN PAULELLO wires result from two different aspects of their manufacturing:
choosing raw material according to its composition
perfecting methods of wire drawing which modify several mechanical or chemical parameters: speed through the dies, rate of metal deformation, temperature, lubricant …
This results in 5 degrees of mechanical performance, from highly traction resistant steel (Type XM), to almost pure, less resistant iron, resembling early XIXth century stringings (Type 2).
Breaking loads extend from 3000 N/mm2 (type XM’s small diameters) to 1000 N/mm2 (type 2’s large diameters) modern stringings"

Some tables, based on laboratory testing of the 5 types of wire. Here's the link: http://www.stephenpaulello.com/sites/def...ulello_wire.pdf

You have said, "Most of what people say about piano sound and the relation to physics and math is not well grounded."

It seems that Mr. Paulello is offering evidence to the contrary of your assertion. On what would you base your belief that these types of wires are not based on good science and statistical evidence? Where is your evidence to the contrary? An opinion with no basis in fact or direct experience has no standing.

The last I knew, you have never even listened to pianos using these wires, yet you dismiss the conclusions of a number of end users who have used these materials continuously over a period of years. Their ears tell them something far different than what you believe. I have never experienced anything other than delight from my customers whose pianos have been restrung with Paulello wire.

My long experience rescaling pianos using breaking percentage as the foremost criteria has convinced me that working towards the the most even progression of breaking percentages possible throughout the scale by combining wire types of varying breaking percentages will yield the most even, balanced and blended scale. No other means of scaling will have as satisfying results.
_________________________
fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

Top
#2508565 - 02/08/16 07:52 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: WilliamTruitt]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23778
Loc: Oakland
Mr. Paulello's reputation does not attest to his abilities in physics or math. Physics and math may make reputations, but reputations do not make physics or math.

In order to change the breaking percentage of a string, he would have to change the material of the string. That can affect other characteristics of the string, which can change how it sounds. (I once asked you to do a simple experiment that could have shed some light on at least one of those characteristics, and you refused.) What I have shown only proves that the explanation is not correct, not that there may be other results that may make his strings sound different.

I have listened to the recordings of Mr. Paulello's pianos that you posted. I was not impressed. That could be a matter of taste, but when you said that the piano might not have been voiced properly, you were denying one of the properties that I said I was aiming for, which is a minimum of voicing.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2508587 - 02/08/16 10:01 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
WilliamTruitt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 329
Loc: New Hampshire
I made no mention of Stephen's reputation. I thought it pertinent to mention him, as one of the two string makers of piano wire of varying breaking percentages.

Stephen's quoted comments allude to some differences in material. One of them would be the amount of carbon in the steel. There may be others, but Stephen has never really said, and likely considers the details of the exact composition and manufacturing processes to be proprietary. That's reasonable, it's a concept known as intellectual property. He likely is doing some things differently that indeed do make his strings sound different which, for me as an end user, is the whole point. And they do sound different. But you've never listened to them, so how would you know?

If you had looked at the chart of Practical Breaking Load values, you would see that the laboratory testing (likely done by an independent testing facility, as Paulello's firm is quite small) yields PBL values for each of the 5 wire types that are different. That is listed for each gauge and wire diameter that he makes. If you dispute his results, then explain how and where they are wrong.

You have not proven that the explanation is not correct, only stated that. What have you shown?

Let's be careful with language. I offered links to recordings of two of Paulello's models. He has been making the SP 287 for some time, and that instrument can stand on its own as a fully realized design. I have heard a recent CD on a studio reference monitor system, which will minimize coloration. I think it is a superb instrument. The other instrument of which I spoke was the Opus 102, which is a prototype that is nearing completion and the final voicing is not yet complete.

I'm not denying anything, BDB. It's not my piano, and I don't decide how and when it is voiced. Stephen Paulello the designer and builder does. He told me it is not fully completed but he knows nothing of you and your all important unsubstantiated opinions.

It's not my job to do experiments for you. If you had real interest, you would do them yourself. That's known as intellectual curiosity.
_________________________
fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner

Top
#2508615 - 02/09/16 12:46 AM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: WilliamTruitt]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23778
Loc: Oakland
And it is not my job to prove anything to you. Other people understand what I have said.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

Top
#2508867 - 02/09/16 06:37 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: Klavimaniac]
acortot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 577
Loc: Italy
I've been meaning to write something on the relationship between momentum and touch in the piano action.

Early Pianos had light hammers, as pointed-out. Pape and Pleyel Pianos went out of their way to lighten the hammers as much as possible, even by making them hollow, like Cristofori did.

There are two elements that make up momentum and the energy that makes the string vibrate on impact: the mass of the hammer and the velocity of the hammer.

If the hammer is very heavy, it does not need to acquire so much velocity because the energy stored-up in the hammer is transferred within a slower swing of the hammer. So the key need not be played with much velocity to get a strong sound. This kind of action is quite adept for 'weight playing'

If, on the other hand, the hammer is very light, to get the same amount of volume, while keeping the sound full (by not making the hammers hard) you necessarily need more velocity to get the same strength of tone. Erard Pianos in the Late 1800's also had more Hammer-Swing to get volume with less weight. This kind of setup does not respond well to 'weight playing' because weight playing does not produce sufficient velocity. The ideal technique would tend to shift more towards velocity-playing or 'finger action' which uses nervous muscular energy to propel the hammer at a faster rate, if the pianist has developed his muscles through articulation and finger excercises etc.

The heavier hammers will have a more percussive sound, more of a 'thud' when playing, the lighter ones more of a singing-tone but if the hammers are soft (in order to get lower partials to sound louder, therefore a full sound) the action will need an articulated touch.

My experience is that many pianists have a hard time with articulation and feel more secure with an action which emphasises mass over velocity..

I am reminded of something that the Pianist Michelangeli said to a friend. He said that when piano actions became too heavy he had to eliminate all repertoire that had glissandi in it because it became impossible to achieve what he wanted.


I think that the emphasis on Mass over Velocity has really changed the way the piano is played, taught and conceived


Edited by acortot (02/09/16 06:48 PM)
_________________________
rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

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

Top
#2508877 - 02/09/16 07:44 PM Re: Tone of light soft hammers [Re: acortot]
Bosendorff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/12
Posts: 597
Originally Posted By acortot
If, on the other hand, the hammer is very light, to get the same amount of volume, while keeping the sound full (by not making the hammers hard) you necessarily need more velocity to get the same strength of tone. Erard Pianos in the Late 1800's also had more Hammer-Swing to get volume with less weight. This kind of setup does not respond well to 'weight playing' because weight playing does not produce sufficient velocity. The ideal technique would tend to shift more towards velocity-playing or 'finger action' which uses nervous muscular energy to propel the hammer at a faster rate, if the pianist has developed his muscles through articulation and finger excercises etc.

The heavier hammers will have a more percussive sound, more of a 'thud' when playing, the lighter ones more of a singing-tone but if the hammers are soft (in order to get lower partials to sound louder, therefore a full sound) the action will need an articulated touch.

My experience is that many pianists have a hard time with articulation and feel more secure with an action which emphasises mass over velocity.

Thank you for your interesting reply.

It confirms what I experience on my piano since hammer mass was reduced. Even though I use arm weight when required, I naturally play with finger articulation most of the time as I personally can achieve more precision this way (YMMV).

The hammer weight reduction enables me to be more connected with the instrument and it also improved (an already good) sustain on the piano.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Piano World 
What's Hot!!
Why It's Impossible to Tune a Piano!
aka, why you should be nice to your tuner.
--------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

-------------------
Piano Classified Ads
Piano Acc. & Gift Items in
Piano World's Online Store
In PianoSupplies.com ,(a division of Piano World) our online store for piano and music gifts and accessories, party goods, tuning equipment, piano moving equipment, benches, lamps Caster Cups and more.


Free Shipping on Jansen Artist Piano Benches
(ad)
Hammond A100 for Sale!
PRICE DROPPED!
(Think B3)
Hammond A100 for sale!
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad 125)
Sweetwater $55,000 Giveaway
Sweetwater $55,000 Mic Locker Giveaway
(ads)
PD - WNG - MH
Mason & Hamlin Piano Factory Tours
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Coltrane Changes Explained
by BB666
05/29/16 08:47 AM
Poll: Edward Zhou vs Martha Argerich-which speed do you like
by Hua Zhou
05/29/16 05:43 AM
question on piano teachers
by iamanders
05/29/16 05:21 AM
Father/Daughter moving up to Grand - Suggestions?
by Adam S
05/28/16 11:26 PM
Are audio interfaces necessary for VST?
by lamadoo
05/28/16 11:24 PM
Forum Stats
83,794 Registered Members
44 Forums
173,005 Topics
2,528,892 Posts

Most users ever online: 15,252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Sheet Music Plus (125)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2016 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission