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#617650 - 07/24/01 10:45 AM Piano too big?
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20458
Loc: New York City
I am thinking about getting a 7' piano but am concerned it might be too big for my living room. My only concerns are acoustic (I have very little furniture in the room). The living room is 12' by 19' with 8' ceilings. It opens onto a small dining area that is 7' by 9'. There is no wall between living room and dining room (together they form an L-shaped area). The living room has thin wall to wall carpet. I would be playing the piano almost exclusively with the lid down, perhaps very occasionally with the lid half way up. Do you think the piano could be inappropriate for the space it will be in? Can all pianos be voiced down to a level appropriate for this space without destroying the tone?
Thank you for your help!


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#617651 - 08/12/01 08:47 PM Re: Piano too big?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3975
I have a customer with a Baldwin 7' in a living room smaller than yours. It is a powerfull instrument for the room, but the bass is great! The tips of the hammers can be softened by needling, or steaming, but I hate to do that unless the hammers are really hard. Try muffling the sound by laying a blanket on the strings and closing the lid. Try overstuffed furniture, heavy drapes, and cloth wall hangings. All of these absorb sound.

#617652 - 08/13/01 07:38 AM Re: Piano too big?
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20458
Loc: New York City
Dear Bob,

Thank you for your reply. Is the piano you described too big for the room? Did the owner find it necessary to try to soften the sound by any of the methods you suggested in your post? If so, did he succeed in lowering the sound to an acceptable level?

#617653 - 08/13/01 08:14 PM Re: Piano too big?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3975
Actually, the customer wanted it voiced brighter, against my advice. Her kids were 6 and 7 at the time and their finger strength was weak. I applied supertone very sparingly to the tip of the hammer,(which lessened the dynamic range), but knowing that in five years, the tone would brighten from playing. It is now five years later, the kids are playing it 4-6 hours a day, and I just filed the hammers and removed the thin layer of supertone with it. Sounds like it did when brand new. Nice dynamic range. The kids play with more power now, and mom likes the tone. When voicing, the word is easy-does-it and voice with the future in mind.

#617654 - 08/13/01 09:14 PM Re: Piano too big?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3975
The accoustics of the room will have a great effect on the tone and power of a piano. Customer in question keeps the lid down, and has thick carpet, overstuffed couches, and heavy drapes, all of which absorb sound. Large windows, patio doors, wood or stone floors, all can make a piano too powerful or bright.

A Voicing lesson:

There are three things to control when voicing.

Power, defined as the volume of the piano in relation to the force the key is hit. Power (or volume) is regulated by the degree of hardness of the hammer felt directly adjacent to the hammer molding. The harder the felt is next to the moulding, the more power or volume the piano will have.

Tone (bright or mellow) is regulated by the degree of hardness of the hammer felt towards the outside of the hammer (tip and shoulders). The harder this area is, the brighter the piano is.

Dynamic range is the the change of tone relative to how hard the key is hit. A soft passage should have less overtones than a loud passage, therefore, the tone would be brighter for loud, and mellow for soft. The amount of dynamic range relates to the difference in hardness between the felt in the hammer center around the molding, and the felt in the outside.

Now, if more power or volume is desired, a thick mixture of voicing solution is applied to the felt around the hammer molding and no where else. (turn the action on it's side and apply to both SIDES of each hammer to do this. This will increase the ratio of hardness around the molding to that of the hammer tip, therefore, dynamic range will also increase, and the piano will seem to have a more mellow tone when played softly.

If a brighter tone is desired, apply a very thinly mixed voicing solution to the tip of the hammer, and /or the shoulders. This will decrease the dynamic range because the hammer tip will be closer in hardness to the center.

Once the center of a hammer is hardened, it is hard to soften it to reduce power or volume, therefore the most common method is to soften the shoulders and tip of the hammer to reduce volume at low to medium blow forces. Doing this increases dynamic range, because the ratio of hardness between the center of the hammer and the outside increases.

Whew, did you guys follow that?

Many hammers are simply soaked through with voicing solution, making the felt consistantly hard thoughout, eliminating any dynamic range. It's a shame.

Once a hammer is too hard, and then softend, it does not sound as good as a hammer that was correctly voiced up in the first place.

Add to this confusion, some hammers are naturally harder in the center, some aren't. I test hammers before voicing by using my voicing pic, or my fingernails on the side of the hammers to see how hard the center and tip are. You can feel differences in the hardness of the felt, if it exists. Compare the hardness of the felt, to the tone of the piano and listen for dynamic range (if it exists). Do this on every instrument you voice, and you will learn by it.

#617655 - 08/14/01 08:50 AM Re: Piano too big?
Beth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 151
Loc: Atlanta Area
Wow: wish that information were available to the piano shoppers with incomplete info on voicing.


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