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#646306 - 04/14/02 01:43 AM Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
Simon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
I recently came across a description of a voicing technique involving pushing a single needle into the *flat* side of the hammer. What a surprise! For some reason, in every instance where I've seen or read about a voicing technique I've been given to understand that needling was done to the curved surface of the hammer, even when a single needle tool was used - never into the side of the hammer between the molding and contact surface.

Possibly I mis-read, but I don't think so. Can anyone comment on the viability of such a method? Do you see any particular advantages or conversely, any reasons why this should never be done?

Thanks for any insights!

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#646307 - 04/14/02 07:08 AM Re: Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
PNO2NER Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/01
Posts: 128
Loc: Traverse City, MI
Side needling of piano hammers is but one of many techniques used. There are as many favorite ways to voice as there are technicians, everyone seems to have their own method. The principle of needling remains the same - to open and separate the wool fibers within the hammer to create a better tone. The difference is WHERE to needle, thus the different methods. Then you get into filing, shaping, the use of hardening and softening chemicals and their makeup, combinations of all the above, etc. etc. Its an interesting subject. PNO2NER....

#646308 - 04/14/02 12:02 PM Re: Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
This side needling is a more drastic sort of technique that some techs will use to accomplish more radical results when the more conventional means aren't that effective. I've done it myself on several occasions as the last resort but limit myself to just a few penetrations near the hammer's crown.

Actually I've come to rely more increasingly on a tangential sort of approach(thrusting the needles at a 90 degree angle around the crown and nearby shoulder area)due to the limited efficacy of the tradtional jabbing when the hammers are excessively hard.

Mark Mandell

#646309 - 04/14/02 04:42 PM Re: Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
Chris W1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
In amature attempts at optimizing sound, I've found one, to three, single side stitches seperate the wool very well. It is recomended by Ari Isaac and Steve Van Natten. Renner does not endorse it, from looking at their web site. Like Rebldr said, anything that achieves the desired result is often attempted.

Reblr, I do the same thing sometimes at the crown where I don't have the needle(s) aiming toward the back of the hammer, but more close to parrallel with the strings.

Either way, I don't believe the hammers are harmed beyond possibly accelerating the time until they become flat faced and in need of shoulder filing. If you are after a piano that sounds great, realize that hammers are a wear item and if properly voiced all the time, they will potentially die sooner. Its all part of maintaining a piano, IMO.

Chris W
Amateur At Large

#646310 - 04/15/02 03:35 PM Re: Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
Simon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Thanks, everyone! Everything that you all have said bodes well for what I *may* attempt to have done with my piano. It has what I perceive to be extremely hard, difficult-to-voice hammers. It has already been voiced once, with positive but ultimately still unsatisfactory results.

Chris: you nailed it! As a matter of fact, I approached Ari Issac to ask for his help with my piano. He will be seeing the piano tonight. I'm feeling nervous. Hopefully I'll ultimately have a positive update to post on the main forum.

#646311 - 04/16/02 12:02 PM Re: Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Something else I'd recommend and in fact just yesterday did in an attempt to improve the tone on a rather "anemic" sounding S & S model L from 1987(which wasn't exactly their best year). This along with pounding the hammer crowns with the butt of a screwdriver actually helped to a degree though I REALLY believe in this case new hammers would be needed to make a noticeable improvement.

So this technique involves a single needle approach starting from the bottom of each hammer and working toward the crown with at least ten deep jabs into the shoulders on both sides. It seems to create a "rounder", fuller sort of tone even if it doesn't help the brilliance(as with the L described above).

Mark Mandell

#646312 - 04/21/02 12:07 PM Re: Voicing: needling flat side of hammer?
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I have retired my voicing needles. I've started using a technique that is far less invasive to the hammers. Take an electronic burn in knife, using the flat tip. Next, take a washrag and wet it, wringing it out to where it is good and wet, but won't drip. Lay the cloth over the hammer, and just touch the hot knife to the shoulder of the hammer. Don't leave the knife on it too long though - the results are quick! What took an hour with a needle takes 5 minutes with this method, the hammers are not harmed, and the results are very uniform (once you get the hang of it, which takes about 3 or 4 hammers) and the results last.
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless


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