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#645678 - 02/28/07 04:14 PM Renner friction problem
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
My 2 year old upright with Renner action parts has felt a bit heavy from the beginning and hence soft playing (ppp) is really difficult.

I did not notice such a phenomenon when playing on other pianos of the same brand, but got hte imporession that hte response is O.K. And a review in a piano journal have given this action very high scores. So I am really confused

One very proficient tech said the keys vere sticking sligtly at the pivoting point and made some work on them. Another tech said the action was of bad design - too short keys and pivots.

For a while a tried making the touch lighter and
the piano less loud by mooving the hammer rest rail permanently closer to the strings, but this had other drawbacks (free motion), which have been dealt with in this forum. And such drastic measures should not be necessary on a tier 1 piano.

When telling about the problem with a tech from Sweden who is familiar with the brand and model, he was surprised to hear about my disappiontment, but answered: "Yeas, Renner has occasionally had troubles with too tight axles, and there need not be much excessive friction before the action feels heavy".

And when playing on low tier uprights I have noticed that the same piano model (a finnish Hellas) with Renner action feels heavier than with an action of other makes.

While I have experienced perfect Renner actions (e. g. on Bechstein pianos) some of the worst (read heaviest) actions I have played on have been Renner.

Have anyone comments on the friction theory. Is there any truth behind the rumour?

I know criticising Renner is explosive stuff on the Piano Forum. But I am suffering every day from this problem and trying to find the cause and a remedy.

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#645679 - 02/28/07 07:00 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
I don't believe Renner made the keys.

Nor did they design the action and it's geometry.

It is likely that the "Renner" part of the action is just fine and the execution of the installation, the manufacturer of the piano itself, that is the culprit.

I think "culprit" is too harsh a word.

The piano needs the attention of good prep.
Perhaps dealer prep needed to be more thorough.

Regardless, personally I would prefer that if I was to get an action that needed friction adjusted, that it be too tight. It is easier and less costly to correct that to where I want it.

If the action is too loose, then that is usually more work to put it where I want it.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
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#645680 - 02/28/07 08:03 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Dave Lotek Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/06
Posts: 78
Loc: midwest
Jan-Erik, For starters I would order action schematics and regulation specs from the piano manufacturer, provide them to a competent technician, and make sure the action is in optimum adjustment.

Some things you can check presently are:

Lift the natural keys by the front edge as high as you can (possibly 1/4") and see if they drop freely. Also do the same with the sharps. If they stay up, the balance rail holes are too tight and need resizing. This will make the action feel cumbersome.

With the sustain pedal pressed down, play each key in a staccato manner and see if keys fail to pop back up, or come up slowly. This would indicate front rail bushings or even center rail bushings are too tight.

Pull back slightly on the hammer rest rail and make sure the hammers follow. If they don’t, there is not enough lost motion for the jacks to reset properly. This wouldn’t cause a heavy touch but the power transfer of the key to the hammer would be less than optimum.

Monitor your room humidity, it should be approximately 42% year round. Humidity swells the action making you work harder.

These are some simple checks I use from day to day on the pianos I service. I hope it helps.
_________________________
Piano Sales, Piano Technician, "Tuning pianos for a song"

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#645681 - 02/28/07 11:03 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Look to see when the dampers are lifting. The felts pack and they lift early causing a heavy feel. Especially on a piano that age.

The hammer blow distance should be set using the key dip and jack movement as criteria.

Key friction is easy to solve and if they spend to much time at it they are ruining the keys.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#645682 - 02/28/07 11:06 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Oh! you can alcohol size the axles,(center pins)
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#645683 - 03/01/07 03:21 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
We have for the moment a quite dry season here in Finland (cold winter). And I have never encounterd similar problems on my grand (Schwander action).

There is certainly no wear, as the piano is very new, I play only during weekends, and I am not a professional pianist and mostly I learn new pieces on my digital.

I mean the action is regulated according to the specs because the piano was delivered directly from the factory (Förster). The sticking keys have been worked on one year ago, and at the same time the tech checked the hammer blow distance.

Last summer one tech inspected the action and only placed one paper shim under each key. This tech said the action was not of the best construction \:\( and praised Yamaha.

Thanks to Dave Lotek for his testing advice. The key lift test was used by the first tech. I will make an amateur check of all the suggested points. Next tuning is quite soon, but I am afraid the heaviness and bad response is probably not due to friction but a result of unsuccesful designed action geometry and too short keys. The depth of the piano is only 59 cm, height 122 cm witout castor rolls.

I have asked whether Förster is using several hammer types in their pianos. But could less hammer weight (cold pressed hammers from Abel)be the solution?

- - - -

I understand fully that Renner is only making parts and are not responsible for the design and assembling, but how come that of two similar pianos beside each other in a shop, the one with Renner parts feels heavier than the other with japanese action? And the dealer confirmed that japanese actions generally are lighter. That makes me think of too tight axles (which iare easier to correct than too loose), in order to gurantee longevity. Especially now when I heared the ruomour about Renner's occasional problem.

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#645684 - 03/01/07 04:28 PM Re: Renner friction problem
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1665
Loc: Chicagoland
If I read you right, the action has been heavy since you got it? Or is it more heavy, now with the humidity (indoor) lower?

Find a tech willing to track down the cause. As has been indicated, there are quite a few places where a little additional friction can make a big difference to your hands.
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#645685 - 03/01/07 06:44 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
There is regulating to specs,

And there is regulating to play.

They might look somewhat the same, but the mind set is different.

A good tech will look for why the piano is not playing properly. Factory specs are just one tool.

I'll point out again that Renner does not make keys, design actions or install them.

"similar" pianos, well ... as in "not made by the same company"?

Too many factors to even begin to mention Renner in the discussion.

Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#645686 - 03/02/07 01:26 AM Re: Renner friction problem
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Larry, I don't understand your assertion that Renner doesn't design actions. Who does then? Renner designs and produces the wippens. butts, damper arms etc, as well as the rails they are mounted on. As I understand it, actions are provided to piano manufacturers with wips, damper arms and butts mounted on the rails. What part of the Renner action is not designed by Renner?

Of course, the action gets mounted into the piano on a keyboard of the piano company's choosing, and they are responsible for that part of the geometry. Is that what you mean?
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#645687 - 03/02/07 07:06 AM Re: Renner friction problem
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
The pianos with Renner and japanese action were from the same factory and the same model. Just
action parts were from different suppliers!

Renner once answered on my question: "We make the same return springs for bechstein and Förster. What the piano builders do with the part is not our business."

I consider an action design bad, if factory regulation does not give the optimal result, or if you have to balance on the "knife's edge" when regulating.

Is it not obvious that some action are better than othere, regarless of who makes the regulation?

If have asked for more info about actions foe long on the Piano forum, where they mostly just focus on the sound.

I will follow Ron Tuner's advice before I sell the piano.

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#645688 - 03/02/07 07:22 AM Re: Renner friction problem
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
BTW, Jurgen,

Any word on those flange screws?

I'll try to call today.

Regarding the topic on hand,
Renner does not design the action. The manufacturer does.

If you look at a Renner part, say the hammer shank flange or the repitition flange pinning or the balancier pinning and you observe that the pinning is too tight, well, then, you could put that on Renner.

As far as spread, overall leverage ratio, weight of the hammer, key weighting, capstan location, key ratio, key length, in other words the meat ant potatoes of the "heaviness" or "lightness" of the action, that design choice and execution falls back on the manufacturer.

If you then carefully observe the action, relative to the players needs, identify necessary regulation points, make the adjustments, and it works, then all that was missing is that.


Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#645689 - 03/03/07 03:18 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Hi Larry,
I emailed you about the screws.. Let's keep business off list if possible.

What information do you have that the piano manufacturer designs the action? Does piano X actually have a jack that is 1 mm longer than piano Y and a hammer butt that has a different radius or profile?

As I understand it, Renner produces two styles of butts and wippens, called AP and APK. They mount the wips, butts and damper arms on their action rail. I don't think they produce custom action parts for the scores of piano manufacturers who use their actions. Sure, there are differnt wip heels and flange profiles available, but these are all simply stock parts. Selecting one of two wippens models to use and pairing them to one of several wippen heels does not, in my books, constitute designing an action.

Are we mis-communicating? What can you tell us about how much custom work Renner can/will do for the 3 models of upright for any given piano company?
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#645690 - 03/04/07 08:52 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
Without mentioning names, I have had a great deal of experience working with manufactures that use Renner.

This question has come up many times and the answer I am given is generally the same.

I suppose I could ask more specific questions.
Next opportunity, I will, and post here.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#645691 - 03/05/07 04:07 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
During the week end I made the simple tests suggested, and I do not anymore think the friction is an issue here:

- The problem has been the same all the time.

- The work performed on the keys' balance rail holes did not IMO make any difference.

- All keys are responding equally and progressively, from the heaviest bass to the lighter trebbles

So it is the manufacturer's design - lever ratio, hammer weight (?) etc. - that is responsible for the poor performance and unpleasant touch feel.

I am just so surprised, that I did not notice that at the factory. Because of all other impressions? I played a lot on one piano of the same model, and tried smaller pianos too, and even an old butterfly grand - a very pleasant piano, and with an action resembling the action of my own grand. May be I paid too mcuh attention on the pianos' sound?

But why cannot piano manufacturers simply copy the lever ratios etc. of the actions that are evaluated the best by pianists? Everything can be seen and measured, opposite to the hidden mysteries of the sound affecting factors.

And why cannot piano buyers get facts and figures about the action (hammer acceleration and blow energy as a function of key depression speed, dynamic key weight, key balance point proportions, repetition speed in milliseconds, damper release points etc.) as a support to their subjective evaluation of the action in practise? I suppose much can be measured nowadays, not only the static key down- and upweight.

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#645692 - 03/05/07 05:50 PM Re: Renner friction problem
schwammerl Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2012
Loc: Belgium
Jan-Erik wrote:
 Quote:
And why cannot piano buyers get facts and figures about the action (hammer acceleration and blow energy as a function of key depression speed, dynamic key weight, key balance point proportions, repetition speed in milliseconds, damper release points etc.) as a support to their subjective evaluation of the action in practise? I suppose much can be measured nowadays, not only the static key down- and upweight.
I think that even if all manufactures could/would publish those data this would not help the potential piano buyer a lot; it would merely indicate the action was properly designed, complying with minimal technical criteria. If a pianist likes or does not like a specific action highly depends on his personal preferences, which again are related to e.g. his hand/forearm physionomy, the "school" of technique he belongs to etc. A few manufactures are quite specific, e.g. Seiler (http://www.seiler-pianos.de/eng/technik/daten.htm); but saying that I could just pick a Seiler on the basis of those technical specifications is "a bridge too far" for me. You might compare this to the hi-fi amplifiers. Many manufactures (especially the Japanese) are champions in publishing long lists of technical specifications with vertiginous looking accurate figures. However no one was ever able to choose the most musically sounding amplifier based on these specifications. You have to listen and listen again, compare and compare again, and the finally pick te one that suits best your needs.

Moreover regulation settings ex-factory (e.g. let-off) are often chosen with a safety margin built in (e.g. 2.2mm instead of 1.0mm) as to cope with transportation and the unknown climate conditions in which the instrument will finally arrive.

schwammerl.

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#645693 - 03/05/07 08:31 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
We should not forget that "there is something for everybody"

If you like the way something is, buy it.

If you don't like it, do not buy it.

I am thinking of two customers I have that that play professionally 5 nites a week.

Their idea of an action that has control, plays in a way that suits them is an action that is "stiff and heavy" for most people.

Another person I have had for several years, has a Steinway B was complaining she could not play the piano, too stiff and no repetition. She was getting back into playing. I adjusted the action to suit her needs, she loved it.

NOW, she has been working on her Phd. in piano performance, took her performance jurys in Jan in NYC, came to me last year and said she could no longer play her piano. I repinned the hammer flnnge pins tighter, stiffened the rep springs, shortened the after touch, etc. etc. she loved the piano.

Point is, in the beginning, she was not strong and she needed the piano adjusted accordingly. After a couple of years of hard practice,she had become much stronger and needed the piano regulated to accommodate her strength.

Just because an action feels difficult for you, does not mean there is a "design flaw".

That same action feels right for someone else. AND the action that YOU like, feels wrong for that person.

I suppose it may be difficult to navigate the many options. Mix in the options available with the "opinions" of so many people, add the spice of salesman, techs and well meaning teachers and it sure looks like it might be difficult to understand.

A competent tech can point out exactly why the action feels the way it feels for you.

If you you don't like it, to take that to mean that Renner or the manufacturer has made some design error is ridiculous. Not impossible tho, just likely ridiculous.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#645694 - 03/05/07 08:51 PM Re: Renner friction problem
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
I think it should also be pointed out that a vertical action(unless it's magnetically assisted like Seiler's) can not be expected to perform to the same standards as a grands action in terms of repetition speeds, or dynamic/static touch weight standards.
_________________________
G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

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#645695 - 03/06/07 02:51 PM Re: Renner friction problem
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
To Curry and others:

I like the action of the Bösendorfer and Stenway
grands I recently tested, and of course of my own Bechstein. I think these pianos are appriceated by most professionals too. And I do not think any advanced pianist would like some upright with dropped action. So much about different preferences!

And by pointing out that an upright never can be as good as the best grand (with the exception of Seiler(?), Fandrich vertical action, and some others) you admit that there are some general agreements on what is the benchmark: The quality grand!

But I am now of course comparing my piano with other uprights. I can certainly find many upright with inferior actions, but they are not tier 1 brands according to Larry Fine. I would place my piano somewhere in the middle. And I pray someone would like it so much so I get part of my money back.

Please do accept that there are actions that are not so succesffully designed and built, and do not defend manufacturer's less succesful contructions by saying that there might be pepole that like the actions just that way. I play classical - not honky-tonk - music. For somone accompanying a choir, power might be more important than the light touch.

If you make a statistic survey among professional pianists, performing classical music, I am sure you will find quite a consencus on the ideal action. That is not the case with e.g. the sound. But the sound is not so important for the performer as the action. The listener can discern between the interpretation and the piano sound. If the piano is out of tune, it is of course not the pianist's fault. But if the pianist have technical difficulties because of a heavy action (please have a look at question about trills etc in Pianists's corner), the audience cannot know the cause unless the pianist shout out that the piano is very heavy to play on.

- - - -

There will always be individualists that use the piano for body building etc. Let them build in stronger springs, heavier hammers,and more lead!

The problem is that a pianist mostly have to accept the piano that is available in the concert hall, church, restaurant, school. Very few can have the action reconstructed, or just readjusted according to there wishes, prior to performing

That pianist have to adapt to different sound accoustic circumstances etc. is demanding enough.

It is obvious, that a greater uniformity among action would strealine the preferences among pianists. From this most pianists and piano student will only benefit, not suffer, as there life would be easier. And what kind of actions piano students should get used to???? The best action - not to exstemely light and sloppy, or heavy and sticky.

And I do not think piano techs will loose much job, as the actions always must be kept in good condition.

- - - -

I have clearly declared that I cannot understand how I liked the pianos at the factory but now am suffering from the piano I got. It has nothing to do with safety margins as everything by now should as perfect it can be. So it must be the design that is inferior. And that is of course not Renners fault...

I have played a hundred of different pianos, and it is has not been easy to admit that my piano is beaten by the new Bechsteins, Zimmermanns, Yamaha U1, Kawais and some other - even one Chinese Ritmüller upright - that I have played.

None of the techs I have consulted have been able to solve the problem. Some of them just suggest choosing another piano, e. g. Yamaha U1

- - - -

The proposed parameters in the brochures must be useful ones, which correspond to a certain touch feel, not just not impressing, meaningless figures, like in the Hi-Fi world. I know the Seilers spechs and they are not helpful.

Only when pianos are tested and the subjective and objective impressions are compared with the figures, the informative value of the figures are revealed. It is clear that the test methods must be refined and standardised, so we will not have anything in the near future, I am afraid.

- - -

P.S The function and regulation of the sustain pedal is also important, but seems to be very often neglected. After I had rebuilt the sustain, altering the lever ratio, it is now much like the fast actions of grands. Which prfessional pianist would like a sustain pedal that feels like a foot operated air pump? Even here the feel of a good grand should be the goal!

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#645696 - 03/07/07 03:00 AM Re: Renner friction problem
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
I just had a look at the thread "Making a normal action lighter" and saw the contents of the Stanwood 2 days cours on "Precision Touch Design"

If there were not a market for improvement in actions such courses were not necessary.

My point is that when bying a tier 1 piano there should not be any need of further Stanwood-improvements - the action should be perfect when leaving the factory.

Reading posts touching action problems, the action feel seem to be a big issue, which is too much in the shadow of the gloriuos sound discussions.

"The action was not properly regulated", "Have your tech check the action" etc are very frequent answers.

But is it not simply so that some piano models' actions work better than other, and can more easily be regulated to satisfy the pianist?

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