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#608789 - 05/30/01 07:18 AM Lightening a heavy action
Diarmuid Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 219
Just a quick question to techs. How easy/difficult is it to make a heavy action lighter and/or a light action heavier?

Thanks,

Diarmuid.

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#608790 - 06/05/01 05:17 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Easy if you have the money to do it right----"Stanwood".

Sorry, I couldn't help it. I'm not a tech, but I know it's not an easy thing to accomplish. I took the 'easy' way & hired a Stanwood tech to do it right and love the results every day.

Mat D.

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#608791 - 06/05/01 07:48 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
Mat D.,

Might I ask, what did the "Stanwoodization" of your piano entail? Was it hammer lightening, reweighting, or major rebuilding with whippen assist strings, etc.? If I'm remembering correctly, you're the one with the big M&H fitted with Steinway hammers, right?

MacDuff

[ June 05, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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#608792 - 06/05/01 08:06 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Diarmuid Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 219
Thanks Matt. I suppose I should have known it wouldn't be easy (or cheap!). A shame really as it's such a personal thing it would be nice to get it just right.

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#608793 - 06/06/01 02:44 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
MacDuff:

Yes, all of the above. The beauty of the Stanwood system is the helper srings because there is an adjustment screw that allows changing the action weight (easily) after the entire procedure is completed. For example I had my entire piano lightened a bit on the last tech visit---it took him 35 minutes!!

It started out with replacing the hammers (Renner Blues) with Steinway D. My tech then took all the measurements for each key and plugged the data into his computer (running the Stanwood proprietary software) and came up with a target weight for key/hammer. much of this work was done on his bench. On his next visit he re-installed the action and we listened to the "raw" hammers to see what we had. This was the most interesting part of the procedure. Dan (my tech) had weighed-off the keys (non-permanantly) and had little binder clips attached here & there to the hammer shanks (to simulate added weight) to achieve his target weights. As we listened, he added & subtracted binder clips (he had measured the weight of these clips) till we heard the "piano tell us" what it wanted to achieve the tone best suited to the instrument. It was amazing the difference a gram or 2 made here & there. Just by adding or subtracting weight judiciously, we were able to "bring out" the tone of the piano--it went from a more wooden tone to a 'singing' musical tone...

Anyway, to make this long story a bit shorter, we finally found the perfect starting point. He then took the action back to his shop where he added subtracted weight permanantly (getting rid of the 'test' clips). On his next visit he re-installed the action and we were at our perfect starting point --he then proceeded to voice. The voicing was finished on his next visit and maintained a bit w/each tuning visit.

One pleasant thing that came out of my Stanwood work was that David Stanwood himself came to see my piano while he was in the Detroit last year; he was a gentleman and truly a "piano guy"!!

My piano now has a much more beautiful, rich tone. It still has plent of presence, but gone is the 'nasal', bright tone I was getting from the Renner Blues.

BTW, the action is a dream---w/the helper spring you can achieve any feel you want. I no longer struggle to play quiet passages.

I hope that helps.

Mat D.

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#608794 - 06/06/01 04:14 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
N.P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 32
Loc: Minnesota
Just curious Mat, why did you have your hammers changed? And Why Steinway Blue and not others?
N.P.

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#608795 - 06/06/01 05:13 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
NP:

The Renner Blues got so nasal & bright sounding after a year or so that I couldn't stand the tone. I had a couple tech work on voicing the Renners but I was never satisfied. I'm sure the Renners are fine hammers, but I didn't like the combination of my piano & those hammers. When I discovered the Stanwood system and hooked up with Dan Harteaux (my tech, the Stanwood guy) to have my action done I decided that this was a perfect time to go all the way & he suggested Steinway D's.

IMO Mason & Hamlin would do themselves a favor & change their hammer type to a softer hammer like the Steinway. Most of the new Mason & Hamlin BB's I've played have been too bright. Maybe it's just me, but I like a piano that can play "p" as well as "ff"--with those bright hammers you can only play "f" & "ff". When I play I want to here a "Rubinstein" tone, that is the ideal IMO.

Mat D.

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#608796 - 06/06/01 05:51 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
N.P. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 32
Loc: Minnesota
Thanks for the reply,Mat. Another question is that why haven't piano makers figured out how to incorporate a system such as Stanwood's into their action design and save us the consumer from having to modify it in the after market? Or am I asking a $64 question?
N.P.

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#608797 - 06/06/01 06:28 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
NP asks:

why haven't piano makers figured out how to incorporate a system such as Stanwood's into their action design and save us the consumer from having to modify it in the after market? Or am I asking a $64 question? [/b]

Good question. Actually, I think there are many pianos whose actin is fine right out of the box (Schimmel is one I can think of--very good). I know David (Stanwood) is working on just that concept as I write this. Obviously, there is a cost attatched to this, but I am willing to pay to have what I want. Realistically though, there are many people buying pianos who don't know a "Renner" from a "Goodyear" and for them, this added cost would be a waste. I can see why some manufacturers are slow to react, but there is room for improvement among some of the "high-end" pianos and I sure wish some of these companies would implement a system such as Stanwood.

It is my understanding that David Stanwood is making some serious headway in this area & I'm sure we will be hearing more about it in the near future--If i was "King For A Day" at Mason & Hamlin, I would implement the Stanwood system on all their new pianos & also change those hammers---this would put them above the competition--we know who they are!

Mat D.

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#608798 - 07/03/01 07:16 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
In a grand piano action there is several ways to "lighten" or change the action.
Instead of weights [which I don't particularly like myself] you can reset all the capstans forward or backward and reregulate the action afterwards. BUT you MUST know what you're doing and do an EXACTING job! Also, takes approx. 2 days work

P.S. Of course you can only "reset" the capstans by redrilling ALL the insert holes
in the capstan screw blocks,then fill the old

[ July 17, 2001: Message edited by: Norbert ]
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#608799 - 07/05/01 06:01 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Chris A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 33
Loc: Ohio
Does Dave Stanwood have a website?

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#608800 - 07/05/01 06:25 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5602
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
I found this using search.com

Stanwood Piano Innovations, Inc.
Grand piano action upgrades. http://www.stanwoodpiano.com/

But when I try to go there I keep getting
"Connection Refused"

Frank B.
Piano World
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#608801 - 07/22/01 01:17 AM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Charles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/22/01
Posts: 4
Loc: Elkhart
The biggest reason the Stanwood system isn't showing up in the marketplace as a factory done thing is because the pianos that will benefit from it the most are the ones where the consumer won't pay the cost of it. They also usually won't notice the difference. The pianos where the price isn't the real issue already pretty much have a great action by the manufacturer. But I'm not faulting them. They do make some nice improvements to some actions.

More directly to the question though, is key dip. Adding just a tiny, tiny bit more keydip will cause the brain to register it as a "heavier" action, because you're having to push your fingers further into the keyboard and it makes your brain think it's harder to push the keys, even though the actual downweight and upweight didn't change. Likewise, making the key dip a tiny, tiny bit shallower will cause the brain to think the action is lighter, since your fingers aren't having to go as far into the keyboard. I know that sounds silly, but I've had an awful lot of players convinced that I lightened the downweight on their piano when all I did was make the key dip shallower, and visa versa. It doesn't cost all that much to have a tech reset the keydip in the direction you need it to go and then reregulate the action based on the new key dip, and it might just do what you want.


Chuck

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#608802 - 07/23/01 01:45 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Hi Chuck, I'm not sure I agre with you about the pianos that "need" Stanwood.

The Stanwood action upgrade is most often applied to Steinway, Mason & Hamlin & Baldwin. I beleive it's because the owners/players of these pianos are more discriminating than the actions are regulated. In other words, the manufacturers aren't doing a good enough job.

Also, i don't think David Stanwood is that interested in the lower end piano market--those buyers wouldn't know the difference anyway. Actually, "Stanwood" only really works well when the action parts themselves are of high quality to start with. I found that out when, at one time, I was going to rebuild a Mason & Hamlin CC (9')--I would have had to replace most of the action parts before having the Stanwood upgrade applied. It's not that the action was bad, it's that the parts were not of a high enough quality to warrant the work from Stanwood.

Mat D.

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#2334119 - 10/04/14 08:46 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: Diarmuid]
johninsf Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/04/14
Posts: 1
Hi,
I'm new to Piano World. I recently bought a 1925 Steinway A-III which has a Renner action with Renner Blue hammers apparently done within the last 10 years or so. It's a really beautiful instrument, but the action is very heavy and it's hard to play very softly and easy to get harsh sound when playing loud.
I had it looked at by a shop in my area, and I was given 3 options:
1. move the knuckles (to improve the action ratio?) and reduce friction
2. Stanwood balancing
3. Replace hammers, shanks, key bushings, action frame, keybed felt and do Stanwood balancing.
Based on what I've been told so far, I believe the hammers are too heavy and hard which is causing both of my problems; however, going with option 3 with hammer replacement is way beyond my budget right now.
I've more or less decided to go with option 1, since they think they can get a significant improvement in the heaviness. Possibly I can go the whole 9 yards in a few years if I'm in a better position to afford it then, but I'm wondering if anyone has had this type of limited treatment described in option 1 and if it was helpful.
I have every reason to trust this shop--I believe that they are very honest and their work is of the highest quality, but it is a lot of money I'll be spending even for option 1, so any advice is appreciated.
Thanks so much!

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#2334131 - 10/04/14 09:50 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: johninsf]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2187
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I suggest you ask your technician if he/she has the equipment and skill to sand the sides, and tails of the hammers to remove as much weight as the dimensions allow. He/she could also remove the wires from the hammers and this would enable removing felt from the shoulders.

The overly dense felt might be improved by soaking the hammers with water diluted with alcohol. Something around a 12 parts alcohol to 1 part water. But you must not put much into the hammers from about note 55 on up to no water at hammer 65. This must dry for a few days before starting the shaping process. This would be the first step in the process.

This work will open up the dynamic range of the tone and reduce the touch weight via a reduction in the inertia of the hammer.

The goal would be to get the weight of the hammer low enough that the need for front weighting in the key is minimized.

Otherwise I would suggest saving your money until you can get the action rebuilt with hammers and shanks that perform like the original parts did.

Stanwood's system does not include developing the tonal resources concurrent with the touch. That is what true tone regulation involves.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2334162 - 10/04/14 11:35 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: Diarmuid]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1766
Loc: Conway, AR USA
MBA for grands. Very expensive. Pianist can adjust the action to suit touch at any time and in a couple of minutes.
_________________________
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Retired piano technician
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com/

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#2334170 - 10/05/14 12:07 AM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: johninsf]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21657
Loc: Oakland
You always start with a good regulation. Just as tuning solves 90% of all voicing problems and vice versa, regulation solves 90% of all touch problems.

Reshaping the tails is probably the first thing to try, although Renner hammers often do not have much wood to remove. It only takes a few minutes to do an entire set with the correct equipment, and maybe an hour more to reset the back checks.

Moving the knuckles would take a bit longer. I guess that entails replacing them, rather than trying to move them. A couple of cuts on the bandsaw, plus the cost of the new knuckles.

What can be done about the sound is difficult to say without seeing the piano and getting to know the hammers. Good voicing techniques are difficult to learn, but once you learn them, there is a lot that can be done. If you are in San Francisco, you could send me a private message, and we could discuss it.
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#2335690 - 10/09/14 08:11 PM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: Mat D.]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19446
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mat D.
NP:

The Renner Blues got so nasal & bright sounding after a year or so that I couldn't stand the tone. I had a couple tech work on voicing the Renners but I was never satisfied. I'm sure the Renners are fine hammers, but I didn't like the combination of my piano & those hammers. When I discovered the Stanwood system and hooked up with Dan Harteaux (my tech, the Stanwood guy) to have my action done I decided that this was a perfect time to go all the way & he suggested Steinway D's.

IMO Mason & Hamlin would do themselves a favor & change their hammer type to a softer hammer like the Steinway. Most of the new Mason & Hamlin BB's I've played have been too bright. Maybe it's just me, but I like a piano that can play "p" as well as "ff"--with those bright hammers you can only play "f" & "ff".
Is your last sentence an exaggeration to make your point or literally true?

I have a Mason BB from around 7 years ago and don't a problem playing softly once I worked on some technical issues that made it(avoiding ghost notes) difficult. Is your problem that when you try to play pp you get ghost notes?

Nor do I feel the piano is too bright or nasal sounding.

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#2335756 - 10/10/14 12:45 AM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: pianoloverus]
prout Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 827
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mat D.
NP:

The Renner Blues got so nasal & bright sounding after a year or so that I couldn't stand the tone. I had a couple tech work on voicing the Renners but I was never satisfied. I'm sure the Renners are fine hammers, but I didn't like the combination of my piano & those hammers. When I discovered the Stanwood system and hooked up with Dan Harteaux (my tech, the Stanwood guy) to have my action done I decided that this was a perfect time to go all the way & he suggested Steinway D's.

IMO Mason & Hamlin would do themselves a favor & change their hammer type to a softer hammer like the Steinway. Most of the new Mason & Hamlin BB's I've played have been too bright. Maybe it's just me, but I like a piano that can play "p" as well as "ff"--with those bright hammers you can only play "f" & "ff".
Is your last sentence an exaggeration to make your point or literally true?

I have a Mason BB from around 7 years ago and don't a problem playing softly once I worked on some technical issues that made it(avoiding ghost notes) difficult. Is your problem that when you try to play pp you get ghost notes?

Nor do I feel the piano is too bright or nasal sounding.

I also have a BB (2009) that I learned to play as softly as I desire. It took about a year to unlearn all the crap I had to use to get any sound of my previous POS. The Renner hammers are just fine, the action is amazingly even and easy to play, and the quality of sound is superb. Truly amazing, beautiful tone.

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#2335792 - 10/10/14 04:52 AM Re: Lightening a heavy action [Re: Diarmuid]
Olek Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7871
Loc: France
helper springs on whippens) can be amazing.
But this is at the expense of a double impact noise on return of parts under some spee conditions.
ANd also the spring is a little lowering tactile feedback, in my opinion.

Make pianos "easier" to play with less mass in keys, so it hlps a certain type of control of the hammer

But the playing that use key inertia (as high velocity playing generally) is not attainable the same.


need to follow the key more in that case, you cannot "throw and forget" .

Pianos balanced for whippen assist springs : turning them to more classical touch is not only done by cutting the springs and adding lead, as the key/whippen ratio are not similar, often. (some brands come to min as Grotrian Steinweg)



Edited by Olek (10/10/14 04:55 AM)
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