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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: 5483
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: 5483
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: 5483
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
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/04
Posts: 499
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: 5483
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: 5483
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: 5483
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: 5483
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

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#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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#647181 - 02/08/05 08:02 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Oh, and one more thing -

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PIQUE !!

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Sincerely,

Lisa

p.s. how the heck do you put that little line over the "e" in your name???

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#647182 - 02/08/05 08:58 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
thanks, lisa! you type alt + 0233 \:\)
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647183 - 02/08/05 09:01 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 Lisa D:
Keith, who is Roger Jolly and where can I read about this "cure . . "?

Lisa [/b]
Here are few references, happy reading


http://www.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/1999-September/052248.html

http://www.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/1999-September/052236.html

http://www.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/2001-March/083142.html
_________________________
Brian Lawson, RPT
Johannesburg
South Africa

http://www.lawsonic.co.za

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#647184 - 02/08/05 09:11 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
JIMBOB Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 1323
Loc: South Carolina
Pique...

You are right on many counts especially about finding good voicers. This is a real talent and takes a long time to develop the right skills. You do not want to turn someone loose on you piano so they can learn the skill and it is a skill. One of the problem we as techs have is convincing owners that their pianos need more than tunings. Some basic regulation to a piano can do wonders for it yet piano owners often do not want to spend the extra money. I have no problem with someone relating their experiences or making recommendations and they do not have to be a tech to be knowledgeable. There is no way that a tech can know everything in the world of pianos. To get proficient at something you need to be trained properly and then practice over and over again. Voicing techniques are the subject of many technician convention sessions but you need the hands on practice to get good at this. By the way, not all of the information or advice given by technicians is always accurate or the most up to date. We need the input of consumers and piano owners because they are the clients.

To Lisa... Roger Jolly is extremely knowledgeable and often presents at Piano Technician Conventions. I may have some info from past conventions that I can dig up. I will also try to go through some other resources. I would not give up on your piano- the Hamilton is a good piano. I hope you read my earlier post about filing the hammers.
_________________________
Certificate in Piano Technology
Associate Member PTG
Yamaha & Petrof/Nordiska Training
Dampp-Chaser System Installer
Certified Pianomation Installer

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#647185 - 02/08/05 09:16 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
thank you, jim:

"We need the input of consumers and piano owners because they are the clients."

you are my kind of tech. \:\)
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#647186 - 02/08/05 10:19 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks Jim. And I did read your earlier post about hammer filing. It makes total sense. I have learned a LOT from everyone's comments in this thread. I wish I would have known about this forum years ago. It would have saved me a whole lot of unnecessary suffering. . . . and its good to hear a positive comment about the Hamilton. I was beginning to wonder. When I bought it I didn't have a lot of piano knowledge under my belt, but I was very picky with tone and action so I tried out a lot of uprights. This particular piano had a very sweet clear tone and I knew it was the one I wanted. It was such a disappointment when the tone changed . . . and then after failed attempts to fix it and not knowing where to turn next - (and lacking in "extra" money, too). . . . well . . . "extreme frustration" pretty much sums it up. So - its wonderful to have some hope again.

Some day when I'm ready to buy my dream grand piano I will definitely be using this forum to add to my education.

Thanks \:\)
Lisa

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#647187 - 02/08/05 10:48 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
JIMBOB Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 1323
Loc: South Carolina
The links that Brian posted are very much worth reading. I believe I have some handouts and notes from a convention I attended in Boston about a year and 1/2 ago. Hang in there. Some of these techniques are worth trying but make sure it is by someone who knows what he or she is doing.
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#647188 - 02/08/05 09:26 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
my mention of other voicing techniques was intended merely to give her hope that she can avoid replacing the set of hammers.[/b]

Ah, I see...... I guess when you wrote

that's true, they can just pull the action and replace the hammers[/b]

you really meant something else.....
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#647189 - 02/09/05 01:03 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
Lisa,

It sounds like your Hamilton's hammers lack the proper elasticity.

When a hammer makes contact with the string it pushes the string into it's excursion. This process is the energy transfer from the key stroke to the string.

If the hammer is too hard then the hammer won't compress properly and skip or recoil to quickly from the string.

This will promote the high partials in the overtone series, kind of like turning the mids and bass all the way down on your stereo.

The hammer will promote a greater fundemental by mating with the string longer ( through compression ) and thereby cranking those bass and mids up. \:\)

That is a quasi technical explanation for what is happening in your piano.

When I was a college tech I took care of many Hamiltons in the practice studios. A warm satisfying tone is possible but it will require extensive pre-voicing.

Avoid chemicals or steam until all the proper leg work has been done.


Good luck!
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#647190 - 02/09/05 07:03 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Sam Casey Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1135
Loc: SW Missouri
Lisa,

It might a little late to get into this fray but....
It seems odd that your Hamilton would be that bright after only 6 years. Do you play a lot? Do you consider your touch hard? It is bright all over or just in the middle?

Utah is a dry place and your Hamilton was made in Truman ARK, definiately a damper place. What is the humidity like in your home? Voicing is as much a matter of acoustics as manipulating the hammers. Is your piano in "live" room, like hard floors, non curtained windows, spare furniture?

Is the tone thin sounding, kind of metalic? Are there buzzes in the treble an octave or two above mid C? Did you need the action screws tightend to eliminate noisy clicks after owning it a year or so? How does the tuning hold up and how often is it done?

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#647191 - 02/09/05 10:40 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Sam -

Personally, I've also thought it was odd that my piano got so bright in such a short time period of time . . because I definitely do not have a hard touch. I don't pound on it. It's had a lot of Mozart, Handel, Hummel, and Bach played on it -- but nothing huge like Rachmaninov or anything. I've probably played on average 3 hours a day since I've owned this piano.

As for the conditions of my home -- well ... they're not ideal for a piano. We have a swamp-cooler running during the summer, and during the winter the air gets horribly dry. I keep a few small plastic containers filled with water inside the bottom of the piano next to the foot-pedals during the dry season to add some humidity. The room is carpeted and has couches. (The piano I previouly owned was a big old upright with a beautiful tone -- never had to be voiced).

I had the piano tuned 4 times the first year, and then twice a year since. It holds a tune very well and has never had any clicking noises. In trying to describe the tone (which is difficult to put into words) . . . well, it just sounds irritatingly loud . . as in "the opposite of mellow". There aren't any buzzing sounds. It's just impossible to play with any dynamics because it just can't be played soft. It always sounds "hard", even when I try to play soft.

I don't want this to sound like I just want to play soft all the time, though. You know -- I'm having a TERRIBLE time trying to put this into words! I'm sounding like some blubbering idiot. Anyway . . . the overly bright harsh tone is mainly in the middle register - the 2 octaves above and below middle C.

Did that answer any of your questions?

Thanks \:\)

Lisa

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#647192 - 02/10/05 07:15 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Sam Casey Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1135
Loc: SW Missouri
Has all the work been done by the same tuner since you purchased the piano? How long after the piano was in your home did the "sweetness" disappear?

I am not familar with the term "swamp cooler." Is that a dehumidifier? Does the piano sound better at a certain time of year, winter or summer?

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#647193 - 02/10/05 07:24 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
"Swamp cooler" is another term for an evaporative cooler. It basically works by pushing air through pads with water in them, which cools it off. It will raise the humidity inside the house quite substantially, and is no longer effective when the dew point is above about 50-55 degrees. It also moves the air in a house MUCH more than standard a/c.

They are great, though! (Low cooling bills and the new ones are really efficient and will make your house cool if not downright cold.)

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#647194 - 02/10/05 07:35 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
three hours a day on average over five years is a lot! some voicers would tell you that after that much playing you do need either a full voicing or new hammers, no matter how well-controlled your room climate is. (others of course would disagree ;\) .)
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#647195 - 02/10/05 08:25 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


You're probably right, Pique. I guess what puzzles me a little, though, is that I keep going back to that old upright I owned previous to this Baldwin. It had been played on for years just like this Baldwin, yet it never developed a harsh tone. I wish I could have just kept it, but the wood inside was so old that things kept breaking. (It was at least 100 yrs old!)

Oh, and Sam -- a swamp cooler is called such because it makes the house feel like a cold SWAMP. It causes excessive humidity - so much that the wood in our doors expands and causes them to get stuck. (Hopefully we'll be moving this Summer. We definitely won't have another swamp-cooler either.)

And I would say that the piano sounds its best in the Fall . . . thats when the cooler is only on occasionally. I guess it makes the humidity balance just about right.

And . . . I haven't used the same tuner the whole time. I tried a few different ones until I finally found one that I'm okay with. But I'm going to look up the one that Pique suggested this next time.

Thanks, again everyone for all your helpful replies. I'm amazed at how many of you have come forward to offer your expertise on my behalf. Impressive!

Lisa \:\)

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#647196 - 02/10/05 09:57 AM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Anonymous
Unregistered


Oops :rolleyes: --

Before anyone notices and decides to put me in my place I need to explain something:

. . My very first post to this all-encompassing forum was last week and I posted it in the Piano Forum section - (titled, "Baldwin tone question"). Soon after it was posted I looked around and realized that there was a Tuner/Technician forum - (because I was new and inexperienced I was still figuring out how this whole thing works . . . plus . . . I'm just kind of s-l-o-w sometimes) --- Anyway, as I watched my new post move on down the line relatively unnoticed I decided that this Technician Forum was where it needed to be. And ... did I ever find the right place!! As I mentioned in my previous post - I'm totally impressed with all the responses I got.

Well, now I've noticed that my first post on the other forum has had some replies and has moved back up the line. I just didn't want you all to think that I wasn't satisfied with the information I received here and decided to post the same thing elsewhere! Totally NOT the case. It was just a little mistake made from a rookie PW member.

Okay? :rolleyes:

Lisa \:\)

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#647197 - 02/10/05 05:57 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Sam Casey Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1135
Loc: SW Missouri
The piano is a slave to its enviornment. You may have started out with some overly hard hammers and the brightening is natural result of your daily playing. But changes in humidity creates changes in tone for a variety of reasons, including bearing changes, action regulation and density of hammers. Baldwin suggests humidity between 40-60%. The closer you get to any number in that range and stay there the more stable your piano. If you are satisfied with your tuner he/she should be able to do an aggressive voicing that should solve your tone problems. All of the physical repairs suggested earlier are legitimate solutions to voicing problems in general. I'd say put first things first: Stablize the enviornment. 1: Get a humidstat and keeps things consistent. 2: Be certain the piano is tuned correctly. That may contribute to the "sweetness" issue. 3: Once those two are done voice the piano to your tastes. Even if the hammers are badly worn a tuner should be able to get the tone to the appoximate value you desire. Once there he/she can suggest if the hammers are worn enough to replace. This way you will know if the difficulty lay with something fundemental with the piano structure or merely a hammer issue. Good luck.

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#647198 - 02/10/05 08:29 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Lisa, don't worry, there is no loyalty on these lists, post something wrong and get flamed by the person who complimented you the day before. I post on two lists and read others though not often. I am going to start my tuning quest after I pass the technical part of the RPT test on March 6th.

Honestly, 3 hours a day is a lot of play time. I'm jealous. Your key bushings are probably worn out and the friction isn't giving good ppp control. Naaa, just a wild guess.

Your tech should weigh the action and regulate and address friction and pinning problems before ever sticking needle in because "Regulation IS Voicing". Another quote from the illustrious Roger Jolly. If the hammer is held back and then fired from a cannon, so to speak, the sound you get is always brighter. Probably after the tech adjust the action and shapes (not files) the hammers, your whole problem is going to go away for awhile.

kpiano
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Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
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#647199 - 02/10/05 09:56 PM Re: Need a technician's opinion
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
and the friction isn't giving good ppp control.[/b]

Now *that* is not a good situation...... one must always control their ppp......

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