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Topic Options
#647151 - 02/07/05 08:21 AM Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Help! My Baldwin Hamilton studio upright is driving me NUTS with its overly loud harsh tone. I had it voiced (hammers poked with that pin device)about a year ago, but that didn't last long. It didn't ever bring back the sweet tone that it had when I first bought it. I've heard/played older Baldwin studios and noticed that they usually have an overly bright, irritatingly harsh tone -- which makes me wonder if this is just a tendency with Baldwin uprights. I bought this piano new about 6 years ago and have kept it meticulously tuned. I have to play with the soft-pedal on all the time -- which I HATE. I'm wondering if I should just sell it. I wish I could just go out and buy a nice grand, but I'm not in that kind of financial position right now.

I don't know how to find a "good" technician around here. I've asked around, tried a few different ones, but I'm still stuck with hard hammers!

Please send me your opinions/suggestions. Does anyone have any recommendations for good technicians in Northern Utah? (Ogden area)

Thanks for your time.
lisa d

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#647152 - 02/07/05 08:27 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Christian W Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Belgium
Dear Lisa,

I think the only solution is to have the hammer-heads replaced. A good technician has some samples to demonstrate the characteristics of each type hammers. Voicing is indeed an option, but if the fabric of the hammers is not to your liking it will only have temporary results.

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#647153 - 02/07/05 08:35 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
If this is a piano that gets a lot of use, needle voicing may be an ongoing chore. One voices to compensate for the amount of wear the hammers get. It's not like they just need one voicing in their lives. As hammers wear, they need more. But for many pianos it just takes a few minutes to touch up the voicing after a tuning.

When they are worn to a certain degree there is also the issue of needed reshaping & filing of hammers to go along with the voicing. This is more time consuming and needs an experienced hand but will make a difference as to how long the piano holds it's voiced tone. IOW, if you needle a hammer that really needs reshaping, the result may not hold for long.

There is also the possibility of really voicing them deep near the strike point, which will usually stop them from going bright again but also drastically reduces the dynamics and sense of responsiveness. Really it's a form of destroying the hammer- but if someone is determined to voice once and never again....... it's a way to keep it from going bright again.

But Brian Lawson is correct also. Maybe your hammer needs more than a touch up, and some deep needle work but not too much deep needling, which ought to extend the life of the voicing somewhat though it's not permanent.

Once the hammers are worn beyond a certain point they should be replaced. You could at that point perhaps choose a more mellow type of hammer to put on.

All this is not to say that maybe you won't be happier with a new piano. Maybe you will. Different pianos develop different kinds of tone as they wear, and I personally am no fan of Baldwin Hamilton. But to get rid of a piano just because it needs voicing is kind of like getting rid of a car because the tires are getting worn.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#647154 - 02/07/05 08:37 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Brian Lawson, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/04/01
Posts: 647
Loc: South Africa
http://ptg.org/rptsearch/search_rpt.htm

Utah returns 24 techs, for the state.

There is more to voicing than just a few pin pricks.
_________________________
Brian Lawson, RPT
Johannesburg
South Africa

http://www.lawsonic.co.za

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#647155 - 02/07/05 08:45 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Replacing hammers? How expensive is this?

lisa d

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#647156 - 02/07/05 09:51 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
cheaper than buying a new piano.

lisa, i can recommend rick baldassin in salt lake city. if he can't make it out your way, you might be able to bring your piano to him. he wrote the book on hammer voicing, and can advise you on what to do next. if he's not available, he will know the best person in your area to call.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647157 - 02/07/05 10:19 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Casalborgone Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 1046
Loc: San Francisco Area
Taking even an upright in for new hammers seems like a lot of unnecessary work, Pique.

Actually, hammers can be replaced by a technician by taking in just the piano's action--you don't need to take in the whole piano. But better to have a technician take the action out and transport it in whatever special box or jig he uses. Actions all by themselves, exposed to the world, can be quite easily be damaged.
_________________________
Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.

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#647158 - 02/07/05 10:35 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Brian Lawson, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/04/01
Posts: 647
Loc: South Africa
 Quote:
Originally posted by Casalborgone:
Taking even an upright in for new hammers seems like a lot of unnecessary work, Pique.

Actually, hammers can be replaced by a technician by taking in just the piano's action--you don't need to take in the whole piano. But better to have a technician take the action out and transport it in whatever special box or jig he uses. Actions all by themselves, exposed to the world, can be quite easily be damaged. [/b]
I would disagree with that, as part of fitting a new set of hammers is listening to the tone at the strike point, and making sure they are square to the strings.
_________________________
Brian Lawson, RPT
Johannesburg
South Africa

http://www.lawsonic.co.za

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#647159 - 02/07/05 10:36 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
hi, mike,
that's true, they can just pull the action and replace the hammers. however, my preference as a pianist would be that the tech who replaces the hammers is also a voicer, and a talented mechanic. voicing and regulation are a necessary part of the job, and cannot be done outside the piano. and if it were my piano, i would want the tech's opinion first on if the work were even necessary. so, whoever is going to work on the piano needs to play it first.

i know rick baldassin is extremely busy, as he owns a very good piano shop in slc. but, his reputation is such that i would think it worth it to move an upright over for his evaluation (assuming that is not as problematic as moving a grand).
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647160 - 02/07/05 10:49 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
oh, and lisa, if the verdict you get is that the hammers need replacing, and the cost is too dear, there are a couple of things a good tech can try to get a bit more mileage out of them.

one is to steam the hammers. this is done by putting a damp cloth over the felt and then putting a hot hammer iron quickly over the cloth to release steam into the felt. another method is to treat the hammers with a chemical solution to soften them.

i would not do either of these methods, though, unless the alternative is to replace the hammers, AND unless you have a tech who is very experienced and successful with these methods.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647161 - 02/07/05 11:10 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hey, Thanks for the timely replies. You have all been very helpful. I'm so glad I found this forum.

. . . and pique, thanks for the recommendation. I am going to look up Rick.

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#647162 - 02/07/05 11:14 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Casalborgone Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 1046
Loc: San Francisco Area
Brian--

Yes, the proper strike point is a consideration, as is squaring the hammers to the strings. But I have replaced hammers very satisfactorily in uprights without taking the piano into the shop. As you know, strike point in uprights is easily adjustable and hammer shanks can heated and bent in the home to square them to strings, if needed. The care with which measurements are taken, replacement hammers chosen and the method or jig used for aligning new hammers are all critical.

It seems an issue here is cost and two piano trips (to and from the shop) can't but increase the price significantly.
_________________________
Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.

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#647163 - 02/07/05 02:59 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
For Lisa D's sake let's keep some facts straight.

Rick Baldassin did not write "the" book on voicing.

He wrote "a" book on voicing one particular kind of hammer. A book that is really a booklet meant to instruct USA technicians on how that company recommends their hammers be voiced "out of the box" when a technician chooses those hammers to replace existing hammers in a piano.

A hammer that is not in the Baldwin Hamilton.

However this is not to take away anything from Rick's reputation in general. He is highly regarded in the tech community. But I think it's going way overboard to suggest that one has to schlep a piano to Rick Baldassin on the premise that he is the only one in the region capable of doing good work improving tone in a Baldwin Hamilton.

Another fact: The name of this thread is "Need a Technician's Opinion". Pique is not a technician though she likes to read what technicians write and then pass herself off as an expert.

Another fact: the purpose of steaming hammers is not to "get more mileage out of them", nor is that the purpose of chemical softeners.

Regards,
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#647164 - 02/07/05 03:30 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Piano Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/01/03
Posts: 400
Loc: Southern Ontario,Canada
Good Post Rick....I always wonder about some of the opinions showing up on the technical forum.
As you and many others know...there is more to it than meets the eye...[ear]
_________________________
Richard, the"Piano Guy"
Piano Moving Tuning & Repair
From London ON to Fort Erie ON

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#647165 - 02/07/05 04:01 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
bellspiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 502
Loc: Boston, MA
Rick, thank you for your post and your clarity.

I was baffled by the suggestion that the piano be taken somewhere for voicing. When I voice a piano, I prefer to have the action in the instrument, so that I can check tone note-to-note, and I prefer to have the instrument in the room where it is played, so that I can have a sense of what sort of resonant space the piano is being played in. This works for me and my customers.
_________________________
Dorrie Bell
retired piano technician
Boston, MA

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#647166 - 02/07/05 04:04 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Rick Clark --

You have been most informative. Thanks for the clarifying follow-ups. I can tell that you definitely know what you're talking about. I am going to take everything you've said into careful consideration before I make a decision.

Thanks, again.

Lisa

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#647167 - 02/07/05 04:04 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
rick,
i feel sorry for you that your ego is so fragile that you feel threatened by the likes of me, posting perfectly good information that i have gleaned from several years of serious study and research at this point, and that you feel the need to attack me any time i try to help a fellow pianophile.

i will continue to help those in need who i think i can help. so why don't you just ignore me, since you can't stand to see a non-tech write about things that they could not possibly know unless they happen to fit your preconceived idea of a knowledgeable person? just read right past my name.

saying that rick baldassin wrote "the" book on voicing is of course a turn of phrase, not a literal statement. there is no "the" book on voicing. it is just a way of saying that he is very highly regarded as a voicer.

and, as someone who also lives in the same geographic region as lisa, i know that one sometimes has to travel many miles to find a good tech, or else have a good tech travel many miles to you. i doubt you know much about the realities of piano ownership in this part of the world, rick, seeing as you are from much larger piano markets.

furthermore, my primary recommendation is that she seek rick baldassin's advice, as he is someone in this part of the world i know she can trust. i dare say that will not do her any harm. \:\)

as for steaming and chemicals, if you know how to read, you'd observe that i did not say that the purpose of those methods is to get more mileage out of hammers. i merely suggested that lisa not resort to those methods unless the alternative was to throw out the hammers. those methods are controversial, techs have highly opinionated views about their acceptability, and the chances of her landing someone who knows how to use those techniques well, considering where she lives, is not too good. hence my caution. but i do happen to know that plenty of techs use those methods as their primary ones, and not as as last resort.

have a nice day.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647168 - 02/07/05 04:22 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


pique --

I really appreciate your input, too, and am also taking into consideration the ideas you have submitted. The beauty of this forum is that one can have access to many different ideas and opinions which, I think contribute to a more educated decision all the way around.

Have a great day! (U2,Rick)

Lisa

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#647169 - 02/07/05 05:38 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
First Pique wrote:"oh, and lisa, if the verdict you get is that the hammers need replacing, and the cost is too dear, there are a couple of things a good tech can try to get a bit more mileage out of them.
one is to steam the hammers. this is done by putting a damp cloth over the felt and then putting a hot hammer iron quickly over the cloth to release steam into the felt. another method is to treat the hammers with a chemical solution to soften them."

Then Rick wrote:"the purpose of steaming hammers is not to "get more mileage out of them", nor is that the purpose of chemical softeners."

Then Pique wrote "if you know how to read, you'd observe that i did not say that the purpose of those methods is to get more mileage out of hammers"

Incredible. You can't make this stuff up.
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#647170 - 02/07/05 06:57 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


. . . Uhmm . . . I think I'll just back out of this now.


So long, farewell, alveiderzein, good-bye.

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#647171 - 02/07/05 07:04 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
rick wrote: "Incredible. You can't make this stuff up."

and you still can't read.

i said lisa might consider using these methods as a last resort. that is not the same thing as saying that "the" purpose of those methods is for a last resort.

sheesh.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647172 - 02/07/05 07:09 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
lisa,
like with anything, use your best judgment. take what works from what any of us suggest here, and forget the rest.

i wish you luck with your piano. please do post here the outcome. and i hope rick baldassin can either help you or send you to someone who can.

\:\)
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647173 - 02/08/05 12:34 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
If I remember correctly, the one who is "writing the book" is Pique. Not from any personal experience she herself has on the subject, but as she once argued to me, and has said again here, "she has talked to lots of techs".

Rick couldn't be more accurate. Pique, who is not a technician, and who has never voiced a set of hammers herself, has presented herself in this thread as an "expert". She has stated in the past that she is writing a book on pianos, and has a publisher lined up. Could Pique be using this forum to "boost her resume" in preparation for making the claim that she "participates in technical discussions" as a "recognized expert"? I sure hope not, because she isn't qualified to speak with the slightest bit of authority regarding technical matters, and has absolutely no expertise in technical matters regarding pianos.

Lisa, you and anyone else having questions regarding hammer voicing should listen to the technicians on this forum such as Rick, Keith, Brian, and the others here who have identified themselves as technicians - not piano players who have appointed themselves "experts" and are in the process of writing a book. This is where lots of bad information ends up in the public arena. We have enough piano books written by the unqualified to contend with as it is.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#647174 - 02/08/05 04:51 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
JIMBOB Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 1323
Loc: South Carolina
Go to the ptg web site at www.ptg.prg and try to locate a technician experienced in voicing that can help you out. Any type of treatment to the hammers is destructive in the long run. If voicing is done improperly you can destroy the hammers very quickly. A good voicer can use a combination of needling, lacquers, steam to tweak hammers but again there is a point where the hammers may need replacement. Hammer replacement may be done in the shop but the final fitting and regulation needs to be done in the piano. Voicing also needs to be done in the piano because the effects need to be tested out and then matched on every hammer so the tone is even.

Sometimes just a light refiling/sanding and/or shaping of the hammers to restore the strike point can help because new felt is exposed to the strings. Has this ever been done ? How flat are the hammers ? How much string grooving is there ?
_________________________
Certificate in Piano Technology
Associate Member PTG
Yamaha & Petrof/Nordiska Training
Dampp-Chaser System Installer
Certified Pianomation Installer

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#647175 - 02/08/05 06:39 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Eisenhower said, "the hardest lesson to learn in life is that even complete idiots are right sometimes".

I sometimes take "pot shots". at a question based on things I have read in my studies. I look at the other posts and if there is an angle that appears to have been forgotten in the considerations, I add my post. In a way, a basic researcher of these lists can be quite annoying in that they are merely showing us what was previously said. The annoying part is, it was probably me who said it in the first place.

The Balwin hammer problem is talked about somewhat by Roger Jolly who use steam voicing as part of the "cure for the overly bright Balwin hammers"

kpiano
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647176 - 02/08/05 06:42 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Excuse me \:D "temporary cure"

kpiano
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647177 - 02/08/05 06:58 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
The Balwin hammer problem is talked about somewhat by Roger Jolly who use steam voicing as part of the "cure for the overly bright Balwin hammers" [/b]

A light filing of the hammers to restore the strike point and steaming is exactly what a 6 year old Baldwin needs - not new hammers.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#647178 - 02/08/05 07:26 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
that's right, larry, i'm not a tech, don't pretend to be a tech, and do not seek credibility or credentials as a tech.

i am a consumer that has dealt extensively with voicing issues. i speak from the personal experience of a consumer, and offer the viewpoint of a consumer who has the experience of seeking a good voicer in a remote geographic location.

i am not advising how to voice, have never done any of my own voicing, nor would i do my own voicing or tell someone how to voice.

i have worked with many, many voicers, have watched top voicers work, have sought and heard their opinions and philosophies on voicing.
and, i am perhaps more aware than most techs, who live in major metro areas, of the challenges facing someone in lisa's geographically remote situation.

i speak here as a consumer sharing her experience with a consumer's challenges, and do not claim or pretend to be anything else.

my experience has shown me that good voicers are hard to find, and one must be conservative in both in choosing one's voicer, and in thinking through what one is choosing to do.

nobody here, no matter how vast their knowledge, can diagnose lisa's problem without playing or listening to her piano. and i certainly wouldn't attempt it.

since i live in her region, and know of someone close to her who she can trust and who can either diagnose and treat the problem or send her to someone else who can, that is the main point of my advice to her.

my mention of other voicing techniques was intended merely to give her hope that she can avoid replacing the set of hammers.

some of you are ridiculously territorial about your role as techs, ime. feel free to correct me when i'm wrong about something, but this bristling about my speaking up at all is quite ridiculous and just makes you guys look very insecure.

i'm simply what i have claimed to be in this post, and there is no earthly reason that any tech should feel threatened by that.

fwiw, i have the greatest respect for good techs, and consider them to be the unsung heroes of the piano world. i also happen to know, from experience, that there are plenty of clueless and inexperienced techs out there, and consumers need to be cautious--especially when they live out in the sticks!
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

Top
#647179 - 02/08/05 07:39 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Keith, who is Roger Jolly and where can I read about this "cure . . "?

Lisa

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#647180 - 02/08/05 07:53 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


. . I mean . . TEMPORARY cure, that is. ;\)

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