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#650171 - 04/25/02 11:31 AM Stanwood?
Grotius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/02
Posts: 100
For the past month, I have been shopping for a new piano, and as of now these are my top choices: a Bluthner, a Mason & Hamlin A, a Bosendorfer Conservatory, an Estonia, and a Steinway L or B. I like the action on all the European brands, but I'm not so sure about the action in the Masons and Steinways.

Which (if any) of the above models would be most appropriate for Stanwood? And, more generally, what do you think of Stanwood? I wrestle with hand pain, so anything that reduces friction in the action appeals to me. Finally, the Stanwood tech I have in mind would charge somewhere between $2800 and $3800. Is that range in the ballpark?

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#650172 - 04/25/02 02:38 PM Re: Stanwood?
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
Shoot Derick an email or search in The Piano Forum on "stanwood". Derick just had a Falcone "Stanwoodized" last month.
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#650173 - 04/25/02 04:52 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Hi Grotius,

As Jolly said I had my Falcone 'Stanwoodized' in March. I can't comment on Estonia as I've never played one, but I do find the Hamburg Steinway and the Boesendorfer to have very nice actions that need little or no alteration (IMO).

Some new American Steinways have nice actions (though it's rare). I don't care for M&H actions but at least the 'problem' is consistent; the actions are too heavy.

If I were looking at either of these pianos, I would plan on adding the Stanwood system; unless you get lucky and find a nice sounding Steinway with a nice action. The quote you were given to "Stanwoodize" sounds about right.

I'd also, and I know this will cause a flap, plan on yanking off the Renner hammers on the M&H. Folks claim they can be voiced properly by a skilled tech. I don't doubt them, but I have never found a tech that could get the 'harshness' out of either the M&H or Falcone with Renner hammers. I had my hammers replaced when I put on the Stanwood upgrade.

Just my own personal opinion. I'm not a concert pianist, or piano tech, just an opinionated engineer geek. So take it for what it's worth and where it comes from.

BOL,
Derick
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#650174 - 04/25/02 06:02 PM Re: Stanwood?
Grotius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/02
Posts: 100
Thanks for your replies. Derick, I'm glad you confirm my own intuition -- that Stanwood seems more appropriate for a Steinway or Mason & Hamlin than a Bosendorfer or Bluthner. I'm also glad to hear that my tech's quote is in the right ballpark.

I'm also glad you mentioned your preference for hammers in the Mason and Hamlin. I love the model A, but occasionally the treble gives me doubts. As it happens, I will be playing it again tomorrow, and I will ask the tech and salespeople about the hammers.

I gather, then, that you like your Stanwood system?

Regards, Grotius.

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#650175 - 04/25/02 06:44 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Grotius,

Yes, I like the Stanwood system very much. The action is flawless. I can now do things I never thought possible before.

I can't comment on the M&H A (never have played one), but the BB's that I have played sound very 'boomy' in the base and very sharp in the treble. Which is the same problem I had with my Falcone. I replaced the Renners with Abels. Someone else on this board did the Stanwood upgrade and put Steinway hammers on his M&H BB. He, too, is pleased with the results.

Of course, voicing is a matter of preference. So you may want to stick with the Renners. Best to wait until you have it in your house for a few months before replacing the hammers (figure another $2000 or more for that job). But when all is said and done, you will have one heck of a nice piano.

Derick
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#650176 - 04/25/02 10:10 PM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
Derick, or anybody,

I am curious about the Stanwood. From my limited education on it, I understand it to be a matter of balancing all the action parts, recognizing that from the factory (and/or perhaps from wear over time) hammers, shanks, flanges, wippens and *whatever* are subject to variations in the weight of the materials used, thereby creating potential individual key inconsistencies depending on the actual specific action in question.

First of all am I even close on my definition? If not could someone supply a definition? If I am close would this be considered *somewhat* like rebuilding the action, except many parts are not actually replaced but rather *balanced* by tweaking (highly technical piano term \:D ) each key's components relative to the others?

And how does this compare to a completely rebuilt action where all parts are replaced and assuming the job is done by a highly competent tech? Isn't this supposed to give you a smooth, properly balanced touch and feel? Would either of these processes (Stanwood or rebuild) yield the same result?

Enquiring minds want to know! ;\)
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#650177 - 04/25/02 10:45 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
John,

You pretty much have the idea. Weight and ratios figures heavily into it process as you can see from text below that I lifted from David Stanwood's website. You can also see how much is considered when making the 'adjustments'.

I do know that some parts in my action were replaced, springs, key shanks, additional springs were added, but I'm not sure what else.

Can a competent tech rebuild an action and make it as good as a 'Stanwoodized' action? He can probably come close. But I think it would cost a lot more to rebuild an action than to 'Stanwoodize' an existing one. Maybe one of the techs can answer this.

The most amazing part of a Stanwood action is the complete evenness of voicing through out the entire keyboard.

As I said, I had new hammers put on when I had the action upgrade done. It took the tech about 1.5 hours to voice the piano. I think that is incredible considering that these were brand new hammers. I've had techs work an entire day on my old hammers and I was never happy with the outcome. To be honest, the piano isn't perfect, 1 note is a little bright!

Derick

BALANCE WEIGHT (BW) - The amount of weight placed on the measuring point that causes the key to be balanced.

Found as: BW = (D + U)/2

DOWN WEIGHT (D) - The minimum amount of weight, to the nearest gram, placed on the measuring point that causes the key to drop while maintaining a slow controlled motion of the hammer.

EQUATION OF BALANCE

The algebraic expression that describes the working key in a state of balance in terms of the New Touchweight Metrology. Described in the June 1996 PTG Journal as:

BW + FW = (WW X KR) + (SW X R)

FRICTION WEIGHT (F) - The minimum amount of weight added to the balance weight that causes the key to drop while maintaining a slow controlled motion of the hammer or the minimum amount of weight taken away from the Balance Weight that causes the key to rise while maintaining a slow controlled motion of the hammer.

Found as: F = (D - U)/2

FRONT WEIGHT (FW) - The amount of static weight, to the nearest 0.1 gram, that the level key, tipped on its balance pin point, exerts at the measuring point.

KEY FRICTION WEIGHT (KF) - A component of Friction Weight which is the minimum amount of weight, to the nearest gram, placed on the measuring point of a key that causes the key to fall, with the Front Weight(FW) set to zero with temporary weight and with the key on its frame and the stack removed.

HAMMER WEIGHT (HW) - The weight of the hammer with shank removed.

KEY WEIGHT RATIO (KR) - The ratio of downward force on the capstan/heel versus the corresponding upwards force at the measuring point as translated through the key or the amount of weight at the measuring point needed to balance 1.0 grams of weight at the capstan/heel contact point.

MEASURING POINT - The datum point on the top of the key 13mm or " back from the front lip of the key. Weights are centered on this point when measuring Up Weight and Down Weight. When measuring Front Weight(FW) the key rests on a roller bearing on the scale pan. The point at which the front of the key rests on the bearing is directly below the Measuring Point. Any measures that contain the term to Balance Weight refer to static up or down forces at the front of the key through the Measuring Point.

SHANK STRIKE WEIGHT (SS) - The amount of weight to the nearest 0.1 gram, of the shank, pivoted without friction at the hammer center with shank level, measured at
the strike line radius.

STRIKE BALANCE WEIGHT (SBW) - The upward static force at the measuring point resulting from the static weight of the hammer and shank, leveraged through the shank, wippen, and key: Found as: TBW - WBW

STRIKE WEIGHT (SW) - The amount of weight
to the nearest 0.1 gram, of the shank and hammer, pivoted without friction at the hammer center with shank level, measured at
the strike line radius.

STRIKE WEIGHT RATIO (R) - The ratio of downward force at the hammer versus the upwards force at the measuring point as translated through the shank, wippen, and key, or the amount of weight placed on the measuring point needed to balance 1 gram of Strike Weight (SW). Found as: SBW/SW

SUPPORT SPRING BALANCE WEIGHT (BWS) - The difference between the balance weight with the wippen support spring disengaged and with it engaged.

TOP ACTION BALANCE WEIGHT (TBW) - The combined upward static force at the measuring point resulting from the static weight of the wippen leveraged through the key and from the static weight of the hammer and shank, leveraged through the shank, wippen, and key. Found as: BW + FW

UP WEIGHT (U) - The maximum amount of weight, to the nearest gram, placed on the measuring point that the key can lift while maintaining a slow controlled motion of the hammer.

WIPPEN BALANCE WEIGHT (WBW) - The upward static force at the measuring point resulting from the static weight of the wippen leveraged through the key, found as: KR x WW

WIPPEN WEIGHT (WW) - The amount of weight, to the nearest 0.1 gram, of the level wippen, pivoted without friction, at the wippen center, and measured at the capstan/heel contact point.
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#650178 - 04/25/02 11:01 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
In reference to the above comments about hammers and the Mason & Hamlins, on the few occasions I've heard them with Renners(on the BB models)I found the tone to be much too "glassy" sounding.
So on a model A that we have in our shop we achieved excellent results with Abel hammers. And a BB we have has Tokiwa hammers(actually called "Pacific Gold" hammers as they're made to meet the specs of the local piano supply house here in L.A.)and it too has the warm sound that characterizes the better sounding M & H's.

Mark Mandell
www.pianosource.com

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#650179 - 04/26/02 12:07 AM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
 Quote:
The most amazing part of a Stanwood action is the complete evenness of voicing through out the entire keyboard.

As I said, I had new hammers put on when I had the action upgrade done. It took the tech about 1.5 hours to voice the piano. I think that is incredible considering that these were brand new hammers. I've had techs work an entire day on my old hammers and I was never happy with the outcome. To be honest, the piano isn't perfect, 1 note is a little bright!
I would think your pleasure with the voicing is perhaps more a reflection on the skill of your tech than anything in the Stanwood design. Or no? Top notch techs are not easy to find. Hold on to that one! \:\)
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#650180 - 04/26/02 10:11 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
John,

I'm sure that the skill of the tech has a lot to do with it. But, on the Stanwood website they discuss how the system greatly aids in voicing.

My former tech is very well known. But after getting really ticked at him, I decided it was time for a new tech. I called Faust-Harrison asking for a tech recommendation, the ONLY name I was given was his. In fact I called several places in NYC and my former tech's name came up over and over again.

Since I am so ticked at the former tech, I'm going to be very blunt. He knows nothing about how touch weight in an action works. My Renners were not replaced just because I felt like it, they had to be replaced because he shaved so much felt off the hammers, in an attempt to lighten the action, that he destroyed them.

I had many techs after that look at the piano. Some said shaving felt was one approach to action lightening, other's suggested adding weights in the keys, but they all agreed the hammers were shot.

After spending a ton of money only to wind up with a piano with a slightly lighter action but ruined hammers I decided to listen to what Mat D. (the M&H BB owner with Steinway hammers) did and to seriously look into the Stanwood upgrade.

Of course, I didn't just jump into this. I checked into the idea of shaving hammers and adding weights to the keys and there seemed to be no clear consensus as to what approach to take. When I looked at the Stanwood website it was clear that every aspect of the action was focused on and key weighting/hammer weights are only one piece of the puzzle.

When I found the Stanwood tech in my area I checked out his work; which he was more than happy to show off. A concert hall, a recording studio, and two private owners. The concert hall had a Steinway D, the private owners both had Steinway B's, and the recording studio had a Falcone 74. All were flawless. He had Tokiwa hammers on all the Steinways, Abel's on the Falcone.

At that point I knew I was making the right decision. If you play my piano and then play a Hamburg Steinway C, it would be very difficult to feel and hear the difference. And that's how it should have been since the scale designs are the same.

As I said, I'm not a concert pianist or piano tech, all I can do is base things on my experience. And, in my experience, Stanwood is the best thing to come along for pianos in a long, long, time. And Renner hammers do not deserve the praise they've been given (IMO). Petrof is another piano that needs to dump the Renners. It would be so much nicer without them.
Add Stanwood and they'd be giving the big boys a serious run for their money.

Again, these are just my opinions. I don't want anyone to think I'm putting down their piano. My preferences are just that, my preferences. There are a lot of very good pianos out there, but I think few are at their full potential.

Derick
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#650181 - 04/26/02 10:34 AM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
Derick,

Thanks for the further info. You went through a lot and obviously did your homework. I'm glad to see it worked out so well for you. As I said before, really good techs are hard to find.
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#650182 - 04/26/02 11:23 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
John C.

I scanned some of the charts I was given on touch weights of my piano before Stanwood and after Stanwood and sent them to you. Check your email.

Derick
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#650183 - 04/26/02 05:31 PM Re: Stanwood?
Grotius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/02
Posts: 100
Today I got a chance to compare a Stanwoodized Mason and Hamlin BB with a "normal" BB, and I did notice a difference. For one thing, the touch on the Stanwoodized model was a bit lighter. For another, it seemed easier to play softer on the Stanwoodized model. If I get a Mason & Hamlin, I think I will get it Stanwoodized.

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#650184 - 04/26/02 05:44 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
derick, your experiences with your former tech are ringing some bells. would you mind posting just his initials here?
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#650185 - 04/26/02 06:07 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Grotius,

One of the great things about Stanwood is that the touch is adjustable. If that Mason felt a bit too light, it wouldn't take long for a tech to make it heavier.

You just reminded me of the other great thing about Stanwood and that is how soft you can play the piano. Come to think of it, I don't think I've played any piano that can be played as softly as a 'Stanwoodized' one can.

Derick
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#650186 - 04/26/02 06:08 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
pique,

His initials are MM. Is this the tech you are thinking of?

Derick
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#650187 - 04/26/02 10:26 PM Re: Stanwood?
Grotius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/02
Posts: 100
Derick,

I'm glad to hear that I wasn't imagining things -- I was amazed at how softly I could play the Mason Hammond BB that had been Stanwoodized. I played another BB, this one without Stanwood, and I just couldn't play it as softly.

-- Grotius.

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#650188 - 04/27/02 12:25 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Grotius,

I've had the Stanwoodized piano about 6 weeks now, and I'm still discovering what the piano is capable of now that it wasn't capable of before. I hate to sound like the poster-boy for Stanwood, but it is *VERY* rare that I am completely satisfied with anything. This is one of those rare times.

Derick
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#650189 - 04/27/02 09:19 AM Re: Stanwood?
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Hi all,

Derick is right on about Stanwood.

I had my M&H BB upgraded w/Stanwood & Steinway hammers about 1.5 years ago, and it is everything Derick says---you can play beautifully at any volume, and completely control the piano---you forget about the mechanics and concentrate on the music.

There are 2 reasons I had the Stanwood upgrade done; first of all, my Renner blues were getting very "nasal" sounding and after having 3 techs try to voice the piano to my liking (they couldn't get the warm M&H tone I was looking for) the hammers had been beat up so bad they needed replacement. Secondly, the action on the BB was very heavy and the procedure that other techs were suggesting seemed primitive and I wasn't willing to take a chance on hacking up my keyboard w/weights etc. on a trial & error approach. I then did lots of research, talked to Del Fandrich and others asking about my 2 problems----bright Renner Blues & heavy action; all roads pointed to David Stanwood.

I called David up and we talked about my situation & he was intimately familiar with my problem since he owns a Mason & Hamlin BB himself. When he explained the system to me it all made so much sense I was ready to go. Fortunately I have a wonderful Stanwood tech near me (Dan Harteau)--he recomended Steinway D hammers & "full" Stanwood (with hepler springs) and he went to work... All I can say is, I'll never go back---The Stanwood sytem is a scientific approach to action touch-weight regulation and it works!

Why Mason & Hamlin uses the 'historic' scales and old-world building techniques and then puts Renner Blues on the pianos, I'll never understand. I know they've been approached about this by several people (including me), but they seem ignore the obvious-----maybe they're getting Renner hammers at a special discount!?! It doesn't make sense.

Grotius, you are taking a very logical approach to your piano buying. If you end up w/the Mason & Hamlin and go with Stanwood, you won't be sorry. I just wish M&H would wake up and fix these 2 annoying problems (especially the hammers)before they get to the customer, but what do I know?

Mat D.

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#650190 - 04/27/02 10:18 AM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
hi, derick,

thanks for the reply. no, i'm thinking of mw.

my piano is new, with renner blues on it. i think there are some big voicing issues with those hammers. my tech really doesn't like the hammers (i suspect he is a ny steinway type of guy). they were heavily needled at the factory in an attempt to bash the harshness out of them, and he says this ruins them; the treble has never really been right. the tech says it will take two more voicing sessions, spaced a year apart. he's able to make them beautiful for about a day, and then they go back. my only other option, he says, is to replace the hammers--which he isn't necessarily recommending.

btw, he also doesn't think there is much difference between renner and abel hammers when it comes to this hardness problem. he says what is happening in the hammer industry is that the piano manufacturers are demanding a hammer that performs great right out of the box, that is pre-voiced. good voicers are a rare species, and the good ones are expensive. the hammer manufacturers are trying to meet this demand by compressing the wool so much, that it creates a very harsh and bright sound (which is evidently what most of the public likes).

i understand that ny steinway may be the only ones who aren't doing this and still have soft hammers. that is why new steinways that haven't been voiced sound so muffled. you have to juice the hammers to harden them, then needle them back up to just the right point to get the sound most people expect. dealers have to pay $500 a piano to have this done, if i remember right.

anyway, i am wondering how much it would cost just to replace a set of hammers (the action on my piano is fabulous and i honestly can't imagine being able to play any softer or with more control on any piano than i can play on mine). and if you did replace a set of hammers on a piano that was designed with renner blues, what would you use? i love the tone everywhere on my piano EXCEPT in octave 6.
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#650191 - 04/27/02 12:29 PM Re: Stanwood?
the artist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 757
Loc: Tulsa, OK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derick:
Petrof is another piano that needs to dump the Renners. It would be so much nicer without them.
Add Stanwood and they'd be giving the big boys a serious run for their money.
Derick[/b]
Derick:
I'm glad to find out about this early in my shopping process. My only concern with the Petrof II, that I otherwise loved, was the extreme brightness in the top 2 octaves. I was told by the seller that that could be voiced down considerably so I temporarily put aside my reservations about it. I had also heard on this forum a lot about voicing, so I naturally thought this would be fixable.

Now, I'm not so sure. I knew the piano had Renner action, I didn't know who made the hammers, I just knew it was too bright in the treble. So would you say that if one thinks the sound of the Petrof II is way too bright for his personal preference it's probably not going to be possible to sufficiently voice the piano with the original hammers?

Thanks,
Brad

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#650192 - 04/27/02 01:12 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
To all -

I have probably come on too strong about Renner hammers. Last night I was talking to someone who has an old, completely rebuilt Steinway with Renner hammers which he is very happy with. However, he did say his rebuilder stated that whoever does the voicing on Renner hammers really needs to know what they are doing. I got the impression that the rebuilder was indicating such voicers are few and far between. I have never run into such a voicer, and apparently Mat D. hasn't either; but obviously, they must exist.

Derick
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#650193 - 04/27/02 01:17 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
pique -

My experience with my Renners was exactly as you said, they'd be ok for a day or two and then they got bright again.

Not being a tech, I can only say this about the Abel's, very little needling was done to my hammers. My tech worked on the notes around breaks in the strings, other than that he touched very few.

I do not like bright pianos at all. My piano is now rather dark, but if I hit it very hard I'll get that 'metallic' sound out it. Based on what you've said before, I think you'd like the voicing of my piano.

IMO, Steinway makes a huge mistake by not voicing the hammers. An instrument should be right when you buy it, not a year or two later. From day one, M&H sound much better than S&S because you can 'hear' them. But they need to be toned down (IMO) to reach their full potential.

Falcone was willing, and did voice, two pianos to my preference. I think high-end manufacturers should do this, or at least have a selection of differently voiced pianos. My $02.

I certainly am in no position to say what kind of hammers should be put on your piano. But my hammers were Renner Blues and they were replaced with Abels. There is also Tokiwa, they may be a bit softer than Abels, I'm not sure.

Replacing the hammers on my piano cost $2000. Yep, a lot of money.

BTW, you should check out the Stanwood website. There is a graph of the touch-weights of a Grotian-Steinweg showing the how uneven it is. (I am not criticizing your piano by the way. I believe he picked Grotian to show that even very high-quality pianos can benefit from Stanwood).

I also must say that with the new hammers and the Stanwood system ALL the voicing problems vanished. I'm sure the hammers had something to do with it, but I believe that the Stanwood system had maybe even more to do with it.

Think of a hammer moving upwards just slightly faster than the one adjacent to it. Or find two adjacent notes on your piano that sound the same when you hit them. Then just hit one slightly harder and notice the difference in sound. Especially in Octave 6. Try it. I think you'll find a huge difference in how they sound. Let me know what you think.

Derick
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#650194 - 04/27/02 01:32 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Hi Brad,

I think, not sure, that Petrof uses Renner hammers. As I said above, there are techs who can voice Renners but finding those techs may be difficult.

The Petrof's I've played that have had minimal preparation are too bright for me, particularly in the treble as you stated. I have played a few that have had new hammers put on them and they were extremely nice instruments.

Keep in mind that the Petrof's I have played are in my area (where no one knows how to voice Renners!).

Assuming you would buy the piano if the upper octaves were as you liked them, I would ask the seller to tone them down stating you will buy it if you are happy with the sound.

Not being a dealer I don't know how that would fly. But if I were in the market for a piano today, I would find one I thought needed no changing, or ask that they make it right before buying it.

If you purchase that piano and then find out that the upper octaves can't be voiced to your satisfaction, you are going to have to live with it or shell out big bucks to have new hammers installed on the piano. I don't think that is right. And based on my and few other's experience, voicing issues don't seemed to be resolved without spending big $$$.

I hope I'm not offending any dealers. As I said, I'm not in the business and just stating what has been my personal experience.

As the saying goes, YMMV.

Derick
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#650195 - 04/27/02 03:10 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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 Quote:
Think of a hammer moving upwards just slightly faster than the one adjacent to it. Or find two adjacent notes on your piano that sound the same when you hit them. Then just hit one slightly harder and notice the difference in sound. Especially in Octave 6. Try it. I think you'll find a huge difference in how they sound. Let me know what you think.
hm, derick, i'm not sure what you are driving at here, but i tried what you suggested and they really don't sound any different.

actually, my problem is that octave 6 sounds weak and thin, kind of wooden sounding, strikingly different than the lush sound of the rest of the scale. there's no depth, the bell-like richness of the rest of the piano is missing. it was not like that in the showroom, and it was not like that right after my tech came out and worked on it, but it soon went back to being that way again.

my tech said that 99 percent of what he did to rectify the problem was giving the piano a good tuning (he tuned it twice in one day, and it sounded incredible that night). there was very little voicing involved. he said voicing at this stage of a piano's life has a very short shelf life, and it really has to wait at least six months, maybe a year is better.

at this early stage, the piano begins going out of tune almost immediately after tuning (of course, you have to have a very good ear to hear this, i don't think it would be readily apparent to most people) because it is still an infant piano.

anyway, if i can stand to wait until the season changes stabilize, i'm getting the piano tuned again in june and i'll be better able to judge then if tuning is 99 percent of the solution, or if i need to get my voicer back out here sooner rather than later.

i don't doubt from what everyone has written here that the stanwood is a fantastic system. sounds like it would have been worth it to buy a kawai and then fit it with a stanwood--you'd save a lot of money!

but even if they do improve the grotrian action (which i am willing to allow), it really cannot be by very much. i played a lot of pianos during my search, and i did not find an action as fine as a grotrian's on any other piano. it is much nicer than a steinway or m&h action. sorry to sound like a grotrian snob, but don't knock it until you have tried it!

the grotrian's biggest weakness is that section of the treble, and i wonder if the make of the hammers is really the issue. if it were, then wouldn't all the hammers sound as bad?

i did ask my tech the next day if he would work on that section some more, but he declined, saying that at this early stage of the piano's life it is important to just play it, enjoy it, and live with it as it is until the instrument has stabilized in its new environment. only then does further voicing become appropriate.

if any techs here have comments on any of the above, of course i'd be very interested and appreciative.
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#650196 - 04/27/02 03:59 PM Re: Stanwood?
Mat D. Offline
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I really don't think the problem is Renner per se---If I'm not mistaken, Renner makes the hammers that are used in the Hamburg Steinway C & D-----Obviously these are made to the STeinway spec---Mason & Hamlin (Petrof, for that matter) ought to take note & have Renner make some 'cold-pressed' for them like the Steinways in Hamburg.

If anyone knows more about this, I'm curious.

As for the Renners I've come across, they sound fine for a while, but after a month or so, go right back to the nasal tone we all hate. I know that M&H had some techs go around to the dealerships to teach them how to properly voicce a Renner hammer, but I haven't noticed too much difference in their more recent pianos.

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#650197 - 04/27/02 07:03 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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I think that voicing technique has alot to do with the sort of tone a tech can get. In my own case, for instance, I've tended to expand on what was the conventional multiple jabbing approach(directed primarily at the shoulders and crown)to a more complete technique that encompasses the entire hammer which is done in a radial fashion. I first learned of this when attending a class given on voicing which was presented by a Schimmel piano factory tech at a Piano Technicians Guild Convention years ago. Subsequently I came across an article on this same technique in an issue of the Piano Technicians journal whose author is a well respected tech in Connecticut. Following this, I didn't suddenly abandon the way I was voicing but periodically would try out this new method. I've found that it is especially good in creating a "rounder", more expansive sort of tone but actually supplements the more traditional approach that's geared toward cutting down on excess tonal brilliance.

Mark@pianosource.com

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#650198 - 04/28/02 03:41 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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To the guy who emailed me earlier:

I tried replying but my email was returned as undeliverable. However, the tech you named is not the tech that 'worked' on my piano. I have not heard of the tech you mentioned.

BOL,
Derick
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#650199 - 04/29/02 11:57 PM Re: Stanwood?
Chris W1 Offline
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Great thread. Hammers mean so much.

-Abel's don't sound that much different from Renners, IMO. They are widely available to techs, they are cheaper than Steinway hammers and are good right out of the box. So, their popularity isn't all about the final result.

-I recently checked out the new Bechstein dealer nearest me and was amazed how bad a b-208 sounded with its Renners. It was completely outclased by the Walter 190 next to it. The renners found on Bosie's are phenominal. Its mostly staying on top of voicing. I do wonder how long a Bosendorfer would keep that sweet full, incredibly dynamic, sound over the course of 100 plus hours of heavy playing.

-While I have heard it said that top quality hammers can be voiced to sound alike, I would tend to disagree. Cold pressed hammers with lacquer take on a resiliance all their own, IMO. I know of an old piano where the hammers are dirty, they are grooved, but they sound fantastic, as if worn in like a perfect set of 88 baseball gloves. That's what I want.

Chris W
...just signed P&S on a house that will finally fit a grand!
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#650200 - 04/30/02 01:24 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Steve,

I, as a non-piano tech, can buy a set of Steinway hammers with walnut molding for $325 at stevespianoservice.com. I don't know how much Abel's cost since I couldn't find any place willing to sell them.

If Abel's are readily available to techs, Steinway's must be even more so as they are available to the general public.

Regarding the sound... replace the Renners on your Schimmel with Abel's and let me know if you still believe there is no difference in the sound.

In addition to comparing my piano with Renners and Abels, I have also played 3 Steinway L's, one with Renner, one with Abels, and one with Steinway hammers; same store, right next to each other. Tone is a matter of preference so I won't get into that, but I will say all three sounded different.

Derick
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#650201 - 04/30/02 02:38 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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derick,
your hammer experience sounds really neat. can you try to describe for us the differences in tone between the three different steinway Ls? how would you characterize steinway v. abel v. renner hammers, from that playing experience?

very curious.
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#650202 - 04/30/02 06:36 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Keep in mind that all three pianos were rebuilds done by three different rebuilders. I was not particularly impressed with the action of the piano with Steinway hammers as it felt like the key dip was too shallow and the action was very light. The actions on the other pianos were more to my liking.

The Steinway with Steinway hammers was the darkest of all the pianos. Not dark (i.e. muffled) as a new (NY) Steinway's, but too dark for my taste. I found it difficult to get much volume out of the piano and impossible to get even a slight 'metallic edge' out of it when I layed into it. But, the complex tone that Steinways are famous for was there in abundance. It was the 'lady' of the bunch. Quiet, refined, always minded her manners. Exactly the girl Mom wanted you to bring home. Action aside, if the hammers were a little brighter, this probably would have been my favorite of the three.

Next was the Steinway with Abels. This piano was a just a little too bright for my taste. The action on this piano was the best of the three and the piano could be played softly to very loud. It had that slight 'metallic edge' I like when playing hard; although it came on a bit sooner than I would have liked. The fundamentals were more prevalent in this piano than in the former, but they didn't overshadow the other harmonics. It was this piano that convinced me to go with Abels. This piano was the girl who would know her place in front of your mother, but a heap of fun when out of earshot of your mother.

Finally, the Steinway with Renners. This piano was too bright for me. The treble had far too much 'ping'. The rest of the piano was ok, but it was just about impossible to play softly. The base had a "thunky" sound when played hard. The notes seemed to fly out of the piano and it was difficult to hear anything other than the fundamentals. Perhaps, because of the ping, it seemed like the treble was lacking sustain. This piano was the girl you secretely desired but knew you'd kill your mother if you ever brought her home. What it lacked in refinement it made up for in 'curb appeal'. It was clearly the favorite of everyone who entered the store.

Again, three different rebuilders did these pianos. Had the piano with Renner hammers been voiced by someone who knew had to voice Renners, the results may have been different.

Derick
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#650203 - 04/30/02 08:40 PM Re: Stanwood?
Chris W1 Offline
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Derrick,

Steve?? I guess you meant me.

There is no other site like Stevespianoservice on the internet. Who knows how he gets his S&S hammers. They are probably fine, for all I know, but, from what I've read and, sorry, I can't remember where, S&S hammers are the hardest of the three brands to come up with. I've seen abels used by the majority of S&S rebuilders, so they must be widely available for these people. I don't think availability is important, anyway.

You wrote:
>If Abel's are readily available to techs, Steinway's must be even more so as they are available to the general public.

I think that is a pretty rapid conclusion on your part.

FWIW, I wasn't putting Abels down by saying they are more like Renners than S&S. After all, don't you agree? You comments in the above description seem to bear that out. Personally, I think Abel does make a better hammer than Renner, but even that is debatable on every Bosendorfer I've ever tried. I've heard some Estonia's sound poor with Abels, too. You don't know unless you've found the quintesential voicing expert for each one.

My Renners do harden up. I am not a tech, but I still selectively needle them to tame things down about every 40 hours of playing. You can never, and shouldn't, needle hammer crowns too deeply and, as such, you are always left with things eventually brightening back up. If you don't pick up a set of needles, or call a tech every so many hours of playing, than you are living with a piano whose voice becomes imbalanced. I happen to play a few things in C# and G#. Its no mystery to me why I am in there occasionally needling down at least the tonic/dominants, etc.

With regard to my Schimmel, perhaps the Abel tip (triangles) are less stiff and would sound better. I don't know, but am happy with my own results through needling. YMMV.

Chris W
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#650204 - 04/30/02 09:54 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Chris,

Yes, I meant you. Sorry, I had Steve on my mind from stevespianoservice.

It sounded to me like you were saying that Abel's are the "blue-light" specials in the hammer world because they were "readily available" and "cheaper". I guess you weren't.

As for Boesendorfer and Hamburg Steinway, I can't find a thing wrong with the way they sound and wouldn't swap their Renners with anything else.

However on the limited number of other pianos I have played with Renner hammers (Falcone, M&H, S&S, and Petrof), I have not been particularly happy with the sound. Or, more precisely, I felt those pianos had a lot more potential.

I've never encountered a Schimmel, but if it's like every other German made piano, I'm sure it's fantastic. Nevertheless, I still maintain that if your Renners were replaced with Abels, you would hear quite a difference. Whether that difference would be for the better is questionable.

Derick
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#650205 - 04/30/02 10:53 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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derick,
thanks for the review. very interesting.

so which pianos come standard with abel hammers? this might help me understand if i like them or not. i've played new york and hamburg steinway side by side and prefered hamburg. i was told the real difference between those two was the hammers.

my current voicing problem actually doesn't have anything to do with brightness, but with lack of power in octave 6. any ideas on what that might be about? my tech showed me how to voice down for brightness, and that wouldn't address this issue.
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#650206 - 04/30/02 11:02 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Derick said:

If the piano with Renner hammers been voiced by someone who knew how to voice Renners the results would have been different.[/b]

Personally I don't buy that, that Renners require a "special" sort of technique. I've already indicated above what my own method is and I could use that for Renners as well as any other hammer make.

Reminds me of the time I attended a class given by Bosendorfer on voicing their piano. They were rather adamant that it had to be done the conventional way, i.e., repeatedly jabbing the hammers's shoulders. Well, yes that can do it so I have no argument with it really. But so can a tangential approach which in fact is my favored technique when working on especially hard hammers. And I also indicated that the radial single needle method is quite effective in creative a rounder sort of tone.

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#650207 - 05/01/02 12:49 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Mark,

Can you tell me why pianos with Renner hammers such as Boesendorfers and Hamburg Steinways sound so nice, whereas other high-quality pianos sound awful with Renners? The NY Steinway I mentioned earlier was VERY rough around the edges. If voicing/the voicer wasn't the problem, what do you think it was?

Thanks,
Derick
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#650208 - 05/01/02 01:28 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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pique,

Estonia comes with Abels as does Sauter (I believe). The Hamburg Steinway has Renners, the NY Steinway has Steinway hammers.

There is no comparing a new Hamburg to a new NY (IMO), because (NY) Steinway doesn't bother to do much (if anything) with the cotton balls it puts on their pianos. I have played 'seasoned' NY Steinways that I prefer to the Hamburgs.

Getting back to your piano, I have a few questions. Not that I know anything, but no one else is volunteering ;\) so I'll play amature piano tech.

If I have this right, you really like the way your piano sounds except for octave 6, right? So right there I don't think different hammers are the answer. I believe you also said that that octave was fine in the showroom and when you first got it, but later on developed this problem, correct?

A few more questions... Where does the duplex scaling begin on your piano? Are there any breaks for supports in or near octave 6? Could the change in tone also be described as 'thin' or 'hollow' rather than lacking in power? Or it it strictly lacking in power?

Derick
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#650209 - 05/01/02 09:38 AM Re: Stanwood?
Simon Offline
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Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Octave 6...that almost sounds like a new drink mix, or even the next blockbuster movie (reminds me of The Thirteenth Floor, for some reason)!

Is this the range C5 to C6, and is that range what has been called the killer octave? On my piano, I've noticed that that range seems particularly 'sensitive' to voicing or regulation changes, if that makes any sense. After the first voicing and regulation, the tone in that octave went from 'thin' and 'hollow' - as you so aptly described, Derick - to round, fat, juicy. After the second voicing, it has gone just a little bit thinner.

Also, along the lines of playing amateur piano tech!: Pique, I would hazard that the Stanwood mod might help more than you think, as a result of smoothing out the strike weights in that region. Or at any rate, customizing the hammer weights to your preferences. Now I know someone might just come knock me on the head for that!

Btw, Derick: Would you possibly be able to send me a copy of those scans of your Stanwood charts?

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#650210 - 05/01/02 10:37 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Simon,

I will try to scan those charts tonight and send them to you. Last week I tried to scan something and kept getting an error message from my scanner (it's an all in one; scanner/printer/copier/fax) that I hadn't configured something correctly. But this gives me the incentive to fix the darn thing.

Although I never had an entire octave that sounded hollow, there were two notes on my piano prior to the upgrade that bothered me. F# one of the first few copper wound strings when decending the keyboard and after the largest support brace. And D in the 5th octave following another brace. Both notes sounded hollow.

Since I changed two things at the same time, I can't say with 100% certainty what eliminated the hollow sound, but I think it had more to do with the Stanwood system then the hammers. The reason I say that is because I complained about those two notes to every tech who voiced the piano and the problem never got any better.

Derick
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#650211 - 05/01/02 01:11 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Derick--

Without actually being there to see the New York Steinway I can only conjecture what I would think is the problem here--an unthorough voicing job.

The Bosendorfer's construction involves the use of spruce rims so that in itself has a palpable effect on the tone(the tone is absorbed in this case as opposed to being deflected back out). As far as the Hamburg Steinways go, they're properly very painstakingly and meticulously voiced by a factory expert until it satisfies his(or her) most rigorous expectations.

Does that "sound" right to you then?

Mark@pianosource.com

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#650212 - 05/01/02 01:57 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Yeah, I think you're on the right track. More or less.

Derick
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#650213 - 05/02/02 11:59 AM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Derick--

Interestingly enough, the tech at the local piano supply house here in Van Nuys(who's actually the son of the man who established the outfit)now supplies wippens that have auxiliary springs so as to make action weight adjustments. Till then, he was not so "taken with" the Stanwood system and thought that his hammers alone(called Pacific Gold, they're actuall "modified" Tokiwas)would be sufficient to make any needed action weight changes. That together with removing key leads I would say.

Mark

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#650214 - 05/02/02 09:03 PM Re: Stanwood?
Bill G. Offline
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Derick & Rebdler

This thread is very informative and intriguing. In some respects I wish I never read it.

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#650215 - 05/02/02 10:07 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Bill--

But in this instance, ignorance needn't be bliss. \:\)

Mark@pianosource

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#650216 - 05/02/02 10:47 PM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
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OK, I'm not a tech.....but I have been thinking. \:D

If each brand of hammer is obviously different, then they would produce different sounds in the same evironment (piano). Taking it one step further, they would then, obviously, create different sounds in different environments (pianos).

Therefore, if you were trying to achieve a particular sound/tone in any given piano, wouldn't the needling required be different for each hammer brand/piano? And so, techs who are more familiar with a given brand of hammer and piano combination would conceivably be able to achieve this better than a tech less familiar with the hammer/piano combination?

In summary would my logic not hold that every tech is not as capable of voicing Renner, Abel, or any other brand based on their experience with that brand? And that one size (voicing technique) does not fit all?

Did any of that make sense?
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#650217 - 05/03/02 09:26 AM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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John--

Consistent with what I had stated earlier, it is simply NOT the case that a particular hammer requires some sort of voicing technique altogether different than another. So in other words, one size DOES fit all.

Y'know it's rather interesting at our shop for instance, that once we voice the hammers to our satisfaction in any rebuilt piano, it sounds good enough(and we're using the standard voicing procedures) and we wouldn't even be able to tell whether it was an Abel, a Tokiwa, or even a Renner hammer that had been installed. However, we haven't used Steinway hammers as yet. They do require more attention in the voicing process(lacquering in addition to needling)so THAT might produce noticeably different acoustic results than the others.

So you might then say(based on what I just said)that yes, the Steinway hammers DO seem to call for a voicing procedure quite different than the other brands. But if I happen to come across ANY sort of hammers that are weaker sounding, the lacquering process is a standard treatment anyway to be followed by needling once the lacquer's dried enough.

Gets a little confusing, doesn't it? No wonder Bill couldn't figure it out! \:D

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#650218 - 05/03/02 10:35 AM Re: Stanwood?
Bill G. Offline
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Reblder

Is there any particular reason why you haven't used S$S hammers yet? Are they proprietary, too difficult to use, or just not worth the effort?

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#650219 - 05/03/02 11:41 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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rebldr - In my earlier post about the 3 Steinways I stated:

a) three different pianos
b) three different rebuilders

For whatever reason, all 3 pianos sounded different. And, based on my familiarity with Steinway and Renner (hammers), I could easily distinguish what piano had which hammers.

If the Renners on my piano were voiced to sound like the Abels do now, I wouldn't have paid 4 different techs over $1K to voice the piano. And a 5th a heap of money to put on new hammers. Perhaps none of the 4 knew proper voicing techniques? I don't know. But, as I said, Faust-Harrison gave me the name of the guy who ruined my hammers and said he was "the best in the area".

I'm not doubting your statement about Renners, I'm simply stating my observations/experiences.

Bill G. - You (or I) can buy Steinway hammers over the internet for $325. I spoke to the guy who owns the website and he swears they are the 'real deal'. He certainly sounds legit.

Derick
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#650220 - 05/03/02 12:09 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Derick--

In the final analysis I pretty much have to say "I dunno". It's a rather complicated issue what with perceptions, labels, expectations and "wut knot" involved. I'd be willing to bet though that if that Faust Harrison recommended tech had been more thorough he "might" have been able to achieve the results you wanted(for instance if he had also used the radial technique I've already described which makes use of the single needle).

Bill G.--

We can of course install Steinway hammers if that's what a customer requests. However, it does require additional time with an additional expense which we would point out to the customer.
Actually, my partner Niles has considered using them on a B he acquired last year that will get rebuilt soon.

Mark

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#650221 - 05/03/02 12:25 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Derick--

I re-read your post and realized you had this experience with four techs and then that Faust Harrison tech really added insult to injury.

The Renner hammers are pretty much metallic sounding to begin with, that much I'll concede.
But I still would maintain that any really thorough tech could have transformed them into a sound that you would have found certainly more agreeable than they were in their "raw" state.
But it's also possible that you were so acutely aware of the initial metallic aspect to them that even when that was corrected to what I would perceive to be a sufficient extent, you'd still not have liked them(this then referring to my last post about the role of "perceptions" in what we hear).

Reminds me of a customer that we just had that came to check out our pianos quite recently. He already owned a Schimmel grand he wasn't all that content with and said he always wanted a Steinway, his "dream" piano. He did observe though that the new Steinways at his local dealership were too muffled sounding for his ears.
When he came to our place, he rather liked the two model B's we have for sale. One in particular he commented on favorably but said that he'd have to put his Schimmel on consignment.
But he wouldn't commit to buying. After I didn't hear from him for a couple weeks, I decided to call to find out what happened. He then said he wound up buying a new one, this in spite of his favorable experience with ours. It demonstrates to me that there are people too uncomfortable with "hybrid" Steinways, the ones that don't have the Steinway hammers in them. And I've also observed that the more accomplished players really don't give a **** about this either. In his case, though, I'm sure he was offered money on his Schimmel as a trade in and hopefully the tech there worked on the hammers to his satisfaction as well.

Mark

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#650222 - 05/03/02 12:54 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Loc: New York
Mark,

You could be right about my perception of how my piano sounded versus how it actually sounded. Particularly with regard to the metallic sound.

But one thing these techs never were able to get rid of was what I earlier called a "boomy" sound in the bass. Perhaps a more appropriate description is a "thunky" sound. Basically a very sharp attack followed by sustain at a much lower volume. Almost like the note was 'clipped'.

I checked out a number of things: hammer not rebounding from the strings, dampers not clearing the strings, etc... but that wasn't the case. If I held up the damper and plucked the string the note had plenty of sustain, so I always suspected voicing. As I said, none of the techs were able to fix it. And that Steinway L with the Renners had the same "thunky" sound as do a lot of Petrofs that I've played on showroom floors. Maybe the problem is more where the hammer is needled? The problem was very evident when playing hard. Just rambling here...

But I do think the tech I now have probably could have eliminated the problem - but I found him after my hammers were shot.

FWIW, there was one (just one) rebuilt Steinway that I really liked. Everyone talked me out of it saying "it's not a real Steinway". That stuck in my head. Of course, now I know differently and would respond "Yep, it's not. It's better." Nevertheless, I am finally very happy with my Falcone.

Derick
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#650223 - 05/03/02 03:26 PM Re: Stanwood?
Bill G. Offline
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Registered: 10/12/01
Posts: 171
Loc: New York
Mark & Derick

My (limited) experience with new and factory rebuilt Steinways (L,B) is exactly as you both describe them, muffled in the treble. Steinway claims the pianos develope over time as they are played. Is there some intrinsic benifit to using soft hammers that harden thru playing?
Thanks again for this thread.

Bill

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#650224 - 05/04/02 12:27 AM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Registered: 10/21/01
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Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Derick--

Based on your description here, it's just possible(and of course I'm speculating)that the piano has too much downbearing and if so cannot be remedied through voicing. I mention this because when this phenomenon is present(this excess downbearing)there be will an "overtransfer" of energy from the strings to the bridge and soundboard resulting in too strong an attack(also called "prompt sound")and a concomitant weaker sustain as well. Technically this is also known as "improper impedance matching" but I don't want to go into the details of that. This would have occurred in the manufacturing(or rebuilding if this were done instead). But I imagine none of those techs checked for that. And even if they had, they might have not even have known how much downbearing was too much.

Bill--

Yes, one school of thought has it that even if you start out with weaker sounding tone from the Steinway hammers, just leave well enough alone and in time, the tone will mature. Well, trouble is that's gonna take some pretty constant playing over a number of years. And I remember a former customer I had with one(during the 80's, possibly Steinway's worst period)and during this time, the sound never improved one wit. Matter of fact, even lacquering didn't help all that much(a more strident tone from this doesn't do anything for the lack of breadth to the sound, it's much too shallow sounding). But the customer didn't want to go to the expense of replacing the hammers either since they had just bought the instument.

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#650225 - 05/04/02 02:58 AM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derick:
pique,

Estonia comes with Abels as does Sauter (I believe). The Hamburg Steinway has Renners, the NY Steinway has Steinway hammers.

There is no comparing a new Hamburg to a new NY (IMO), because (NY) Steinway doesn't bother to do much (if anything) with the cotton balls it puts on their pianos. I have played 'seasoned' NY Steinways that I prefer to the Hamburgs.[/b]
hm. the side by side comparison i did was with two seasoned pianos. maybe i just like the renner sound. though it would seem there are both makes with abel and renners i like and abel and renners i don't like. so the hammers must not be a factor.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Derick:

Getting back to your piano, I have a few questions. Not that I know anything, but no one else is volunteering ;\) so I'll play amature piano tech.[/b]
hey, much appreciated. i have a new tech (local) who is coming to tune next week, and if i glean any ideas from this forum from any of you here as to what might address this problem, i will be thrilled.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Derick:

If I have this right, you really like the way your piano sounds except for octave 6, right? So right there I don't think different hammers are the answer. I believe you also said that that octave was fine in the showroom and when you first got it, but later on developed this problem, correct?[/b]
well, it arrived with this problem, but then, the plate was loose, too. but tightening the plate didn't fix it. the tech who flew out from new york gave it a quick fix with some laquer and needling, and also a double concert tuning. after his tunings, my piano was absolutely sublime, much better even than in the showroom. but, true to what the tech predicted, by the next morning it was sliding back to its previous condition. he said nothing he could do would have a shelf life longer than 24 hours, as the piano is changing constantly at this stage of its career. when i raved about how much better the treble was, he said 90 percent of what he did to address the problem was the good tuning, and that the piano would go out of tune again almost immediately, because it is brand new.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Derick:
A few more questions... Where does the duplex scaling begin on your piano? Are there any breaks for supports in or near octave 6? Could the change in tone also be described as 'thin' or 'hollow' rather than lacking in power? Or it it strictly lacking in power?.[/b]
grr. this is so hard to answer. the tone could also be described as thin or hollow, though i call it "wooden" sounding. it doesn't project, it lacks the resonance of the rest of the keys. but if you pluck the strings for those notes, they have excellent sustain.
and yes, since you ask, there is some sort of a break in the scale right where the shift happens, around E5. the agraffes stop at the beginning of that octave. and yes, i do believe that must be where the duplex scaling begins, as there is felt under the strings right behind the pins for the upper octaves, but not below d5.

so what does this tell me about my problem with octave 6? and what can be done about it? anyone???
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#650226 - 05/05/02 03:37 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Another completely wild guess/idea...

In a post above I described a problem I heard with one of the Steinways as having a sharp attack and then sustain at a low volume in the bass. Mark mentioned that it could have been due to too much downbearing. I wonder if too much downbearing in the treble could manifest itself in a way that you are hearing on your piano? Tightening the plate would have some affect on downbearing, right???

What I don't understand is how tuning could affect it THAT much. But, as I said, I don't know a thing and am just taking shots in the dark.

My piano has a break between C# and D. If i listen VERY carefully, I can detect a slightly different tonality between the two notes, but then the rest of the octave sounds like the rest of the piano. I wish I had some other stupid thing to throw out as a possibility...

Derick

P.S. Have you ever written to Grotian?
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#650227 - 05/06/02 10:23 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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pique,

One more stupid question...

You said that octave 6 had a "wooden" sound. Is such a sound characteristic of one might imagine a piano to sound like if very little felt were covering the hammer core (don't know if that's the proper term).

Again, just trying to help; I readily admit I don't know what I'm talking about.

Derick
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#650228 - 05/06/02 10:51 AM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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the sound in just that section lacks dimension. the round, full tone of the preceding octave is absent. it is a flatter sound, lacking depth. it doesn't sound wooden in the sense of hearing wood striking string. it sounds wooden in the sense of being dull.

it is interesting that this shift in tone occurs just at the point that the agraffes stop, and there is more felt under the strings by the pegs.

do any of the techs here know what i'm talking about? and is this a common phenomenon due to scale design? and if so, how is it commonly addressed?

thanks a bunch.
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#650229 - 05/06/02 11:45 AM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Pique--

Yours is a real mystery gotta say. At first I thought that the felt under the strings was perhaps overdamping the string harmonics and thus causing the condition you describe. Then I went to my own piano(a Yamaha S4 grand)and saw that I have the same exact style and it has no effect whatever on that region tonally speaking. I do remember that years ago Baldwin had a patent on this frontal aliquot system with no string underfelt that allowed the front segments of the strings to vibrate with the idea that it could enhance the overall tonal color. Similarly Bluthner has these supplemental aliquot segments though I feel the result is no negligible as to be non-existent(as far as enhancing the tonal harmonics goes). But maybe in your case the effect of that string underfelt is TOO effective causing that undesired muffling effect you've described.

Mark Mandell
www.pianosource.com

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#650230 - 05/06/02 11:54 AM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Pique--

Just an afterthought. It's possible that this was intentionally done BECAUSE the Grotrian makers realize that that section has a tendency to get rather strident sounding relative to the other piano sections. This is because the shorter string segments vibrate to a greater degree vertically relative to the horizontal component unlike the longer strings in the preceding tenor area. It's for this reason that this section always requires a more aggressive voicing. So Grotrian's philosophy might be that it's better to have that section tonally on a par with the rest of the piano.

But I also wish to emphasize that this is conjecture on my part and I too could be way off base. Might be worth your while to contact the Grotrian company to see if this has been done for this reason.

Mark

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#650231 - 05/06/02 12:14 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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thanks, mark, there may be something to your last conjecture, though assuredly i do not know.

i did ask my tech to work more on that section and he advised against voicing it any further. he said that it would be better to let the piano develop on its own for a year or so, and that the imbalances would work themselves out.

in the meantime, it is driving me crazy. i'm working on a mozart sonata where most of the melody is in that octave, and i just hate it.

do you think it would be OK to remove the felt from just under those strings and see if that made an improvement? is that something you would feel comfortable doing? couldn't you always put the felt back if that section began to get too strident?

i may think about emailing grotrian in germany about it. maybe just to ask them about their design philosophy in this particular case, and the intention for that section.

in the meantime, it is getting tuned at the end of this week (i'm going to ask for tuning at A=443) and i'll see if that makes a difference.

if anybody else has any ideas or info on this, please do post it.
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#650232 - 05/06/02 03:04 PM Re: Stanwood?
Brian Lawson, RPT Offline
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Registered: 07/04/01
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"do any of the techs here know what i'm talking about? and is this a common phenomenon due to scale design? and if so, how is it commonly addressed?"

What you may be complaining of is the "killer octave" which is basicly only overcome by better soundboard design

search for it on www.ptg.org/archive/pianotech/
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#650233 - 05/06/02 08:40 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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brian,
thank you very much for sending me to the ptg board. a fascinating reference. i did do a search on "killer octave" there and one of the techs gave a test for it. he said strike A5 hard and time the decay. mine decayed fully in about 22 seconds. he said anything over 15 is a very lively soundboard, anything under 12 is a dead soundboard.

based on this, it would seem that my soundboard is fine. i also checked the crown in the treble area (it's there), and the downbearing has been checked and is fine.

i did note that the length of sustain seems to gradually grow shorter as one moves up the keyboard. (is that normal?) it is quite short at the top of the keyboard. sustain in the killer octave area is around 12 seconds. the tone is much cleaner, clearer, and purer when the strings are plucked than when struck with a hammer. therefore, i am thinking--and hoping!--this is a voicing issue.

but the "killer octave" on my piano does indeed perform as those techs describe. it's too quiet, and does have the "blown speaker" sound.

i do wonder if any of this has to do with the scale design of my piano.

i also wonder how common is the "killer octave" experience? do most pianos have this problem? are some known more for this than others?
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#650234 - 05/06/02 09:18 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Pique--

Just a suggestion(besides notifying Grotrian).

Check out www.wapin.com. The wapin system is designed essentially to enhance volume and sustain in a piano short of replacing the soundboard. My partner, Niles Duncan and myself did such an installation about a year and a half ago on a relatively obscure 7' grand and got excellent results with it. It entails modifying the bridge as you'll read on the website.

Mark

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#650235 - 05/07/02 09:26 AM Re: Stanwood?
Simon Offline
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Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Pique, in answer to your question, from my earlier post:

 Quote:
Originally posted by Simon:
...
Is this the range C5 to C6, and is that range what has been called the killer octave? On my piano, I've noticed that that range seems particularly 'sensitive' to voicing or regulation changes, if that makes any sense. After the first voicing and regulation, the tone in that octave went from 'thin' and 'hollow' - as you so aptly described, Derick - to round, fat, juicy. After the second voicing, it has gone just a little bit thinner.
...[/b]
What I perceived as 'thin' and 'hollow' may be the same as what you described as 'wooden' - but that is pure conjecture on my part, of course. IMHO Derick may have had a point when he alluded to the condition of the felt on the hammers possibly having to do with the problem (if I read you correctly Derick, sorry if I haven't). Again, just a guess and probably wrong.

According to the tech who did the first voicing, the 'killer octave' problem is common.

FWIW.

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#650236 - 05/07/02 12:02 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Yes, the "killer octave" is a common enough phenomenon. It can be corrected(drastically however)through replacing the soundboard. My rebuilding partner and myself achieved remarkable success in doing such with a Steinway A3. We felt that leaving the original board intact with the weak sounding octave wasn't doing the piano justice if restringing alone wasn't guaranteed to change it enough.

I've also heard though about a tech specializing in the Wapin system(which I made reference to above) who addressed the same problem in a Steinway D and corrected it because the school he was contracting to rebuild the piano for wasn't in a position to afford a soundboard replacement.

Mark@pianosource.com

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#650237 - 05/07/02 12:21 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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mark,
even though the soundboard appears to have crown (though maybe less all the way at the top of the scale--it is hard to tell with so little room to manuever under there), and i'm told it has proper downbearing (maybe too much?) and the sustain at A5 is excellent (though not so great at A6), the "killer octave" as it was described on the ptg board does indeed seem to describe my piano.

this is a brand new piano, under warranty. it should not need a new soundboard. in reading the ptg board, there were quite a few discussions about how common this is, and that usually customers don't recognize there is a problem. there was even a debate about whether or not it was the responsibility of a tech to tell a customer about the problem if they didn't notice it.

these techs were quite cynical about the entire business. evidently, it is not uncommon for new pianos to have bad soundboards. however, getting satisfaction for the customer is next to impossible. the dealer's tech's job is to assure the customer that nothing is wrong. the customer's tech can call the dealer and manufacturer and tell them there is a problem, but then it is his word against the dealer tech's. the customer's tech has no incentive to protect the customer's interests (except his own sense of fairness and integrity) because there is nothing in it for him except aggravation.

another thing that was mentioned on the ptg board is that some voicers are very skilled at temporarily disguising these problems.

so, now, of course, i am wondering if this describes my situation. my dealer sent out his tech, who pronounced there was nothing at all wrong with the piano, and who made it sound wonderful for about one day. and who, when i complained that some of the problems were coming back, said i should just ignore the problems for a while and play the piano, and then get it voiced again in about a year.

i am wondering why the tech on the ptg board said to test A5 for killer octave problems when A5 is not in the killer octave, but A6 is. my A5 has terrific sustain. A6 does tend to drop off, however. is sustain supposed to be consistent across the scale?

how do i determine for certain if i have a killer octave problem?

if i do have such a problem, how do i get satisfaction from the dealer and avoid the "games"? should this be considered a warranty issue? how should a reputable dealer handle it if the piano has a killer octave problem?

i'd hate to think that it is my problem now to remediate this when the piano is under warranty.

also, until i read the ptg board, i did not realize that some sections of the soundboard could be dead while others are alive. my soundboard has tons of crown if you measure along the longest ribs. less so when you get to the very shortest ribs. but wouldn't that make sense, since there is less surface area with which to create crown?

i hope there is some straight shooter here who might guide me in sorting all this out.
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#650238 - 05/07/02 12:57 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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pique,

In a previous post you mentioned a test by striking A5 and timing the decay. You said that yours decayed fully in about 22 seconds.

Is this test performed with or without the sustain pedal?

When you say the note decayed fully, does that mean that there is absolutely no sound coming from the piano?

I just want to try this on my piano.

Thanks,
Derick
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#650239 - 05/07/02 01:16 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derick:
pique,

In a previous post you mentioned a test by striking A5 and timing the decay. You said that yours decayed fully in about 22 seconds.

Is this test performed with or without the sustain pedal?
[/b]

without the sustain pedal. you must strike the key very hard and hold it down. time the duration with a second hand on your watch until the tone has vanished for all music making purposes. (not until every last sound is gone--that took over 30 seconds on my piano).

part two of the test: then, you depress the same key very gently, just enough to raise the damper off the string without sounding it. then take a guitar pick or similar tool and pluck the string, damper raised, very hard, while keeping the key depressed. again, time the decay. it should be the same as when the string is struck by the hammer. if the sustain is longer, or the tonal qualities are different when you pluck the string v. when you strike the hammer, then you can change the performance with voicing. if the results are the same with hammer and string plucking, then you know the problem is inherent and voicing won't help.

i timed the duration of tone as it would be useful for making music. i have extremely acute hearing, so can hear sound vibrations that probably aren't relevant to the test well after that.

i would think, however, that it wouldn't matter that much, just as long as you time the same duration of sound for the plucking as you do for striking the hammer.

please post your results with your falcone. in particular, i'd like to know how the duration of your A5 compares with your A6, and if duration changes in general as you move up the scale. what do you find about the qualities of the tone with hammer strike v. plucking?

also, the test gave a duration of under 12 seconds as proof of board failure, and above 15 seconds as a lively soundboard. i wonder if this duration can be affected by room acoustics, and that a shorter duration could be improved by locating the piano differently?
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#650240 - 05/07/02 01:37 PM Re: Stanwood?
reblder Offline
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Pique--

One thing you might want to do is return to the dealer and see if other Grotrians(preferably your model too)have that same problem in the same area.
If they do, then as I indicated before this is something intentionally done by the Grotrian makers to keep that area a little weaker for a while until it brightens enough to eventually match the rest of the piano(remember my saying that that area tends to get brightest sooner than the other sections).

I once discovered that excess crown in a soundboard creates problems as well. There was a little model of a soundboard that had a tuning fork mounted on it. When the soundboard had zero crown or excess crown the tone was dead. So the optimum crown is right in the middle of those extremes. However, I'd be astonished if your piano had this excess problem to it.

If you're not getting the satisfaction from the dealer, I think you need to get in touch with the Grotrian company just to find out if there is indeed some sort of flaw that they would need to correct. And you'd need to make sure that a Grotrian authorized factory tech is the one checking it out.

Mark

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#650241 - 05/07/02 10:39 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Loc: New York
pique,

Here are the decay times on my piano. BTW, there is no difference whether I strike the string with the hammer or pluck it:

A5 - 18 seconds
A6 - 12 seconds
A7 - 7 seconds

I'm surprised your A5 sustains for 22 seconds. Falcone's are praised for their long sustain. Not that I'd expect your piano to sustain less, but I didn't expect it to sustain significantly longer.

Now I'm wondering if there is something wrong with my piano.

Derick
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#650242 - 05/07/02 11:17 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
derick,
thanks very much for posting that. it is a big help. this shows me that sustain does diminish the higher one goes on the scale. and the fact that your A6 and my A6 decay at about the same rate is very reassuring to me.

as for my sustain at A5 being longer than yours, don't feel bad. anything over 15 seconds is considered to be a very long sustain, so there's nothing wrong with your piano. one reason i bought the grotrian is for its extraordinary sustaining characteristics. if i had counted until the sound utterly disappeared it would be even longer.

ok, so apparently my soundboard is OK. now what? how do i get this part of the piano to respond like the rest of the scale?

mark, thanks for your suggestion about contacting grotrian, but in light of the contacts i've already made with them and the dealer, i'm thinking my best bet is to figure out what the problem is independently and only go to them if and when the facts show that there is a warranty issue. otherwise, i'll just have to deal with them trying to show me again that there is no problem.

unfortunately, i live 2,500 miles away from my dealer, so i can't go play other new grotrians. but i do think i may inquire of the factory if they deliberately dulled down octave six in anticipation of it becoming too brilliant in future.
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#650243 - 05/08/02 12:09 AM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
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Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
Pique,

Let me offer you some free advice, keeping in mind that free advice is usually worth what you pay for it. \:D

Three to four years ago I went on a piano safari. As I was looking mostly at used, older, quality pianos I made it a point to get as educated as possible on repairing and rebuilding. I spoke with retailers, private sellers, techs, rebuilders, and anybody who would talk pianos with me. I also spent *numerous* hours scouring the PTG archives to learn of repairs, rebuilds, and other things that can cost a lot of money on older pianos.

I found the PTG archive incredibly insightful. But one of the things I came to realize is that building or maintaining a good piano is way more art than science. People with excellent credentials didn't always have answers to issues and problems such as the "killer octave". Their experiences didn't always mirror each other when faced with similar problems.

I too reviewed the archives just now for "killer octave". Some of the things pointed out include the fact that no sound comparisons are legitimate if the piano is not in perfect tune. Many pianos have a killer octave, but not always in the same place. The same piano can have the killer octave move based on changes in household climate conditions such as humidity.

What I am trying to say is that I seriously doubt that a high quality piano such as you have has any major flaw with it. While everyone here is trying to be helpful, keep in mind that no one here has ever seen or heard *your* piano.

My current piano is completely rebuilt including the soundboard. I am of the belief that a new piano does need time (maybe years) to fully settle in. During that time minor changes in sound can occur. I think this could well be what you are experiencing. Factoring that with a piano as it gets slightly out of tune and you can really drive yourself crazy wondering if you are hearing things. I know, I've been there (And more than once ;\) ). I'm not saying you aren't hearing things, just that it could be very normal as your tech told you. My diagnosis (since everyone else seems to have one) is a mere case of "paralysis by analysis". Yes, you are hearing things, no they are are not major problems.

Since it sounds like you have no current "local" tech, I would start trying to find a good one since I'm just speculating that your dealer may not feel the need to fly one out for you every 6 months.........and you will have a life long need for one! \:D
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#650244 - 05/08/02 01:31 AM Re: Stanwood?
Chris W1 Offline
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Registered: 09/26/01
Posts: 915
Loc: Boston
Pique, et al,

As an aside, A#5 is the break on the Steinway B, a piano frequently asailed as having killer octave problems. This may be part of why you see so many "A5" references on the PTG site.

Once upon a time you really liked this very piano in the showroom and, whether it is you, or the piano, that has changed, at least there is a good chance you'll find that relationship again with it. Its not impossible, but very hard to believe something has changed that radically. Hammers?

I agree with John C. If two pianos have different tunings, bad and good, the sustain times will differ. A better test would mute off 2/3 strings in a unison before clocking anything.

Chris W
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#650245 - 05/08/02 09:28 AM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
the piano changed radically before my ears in just 12 hours, so it certainly could have changed from the showroom. the tech who prepared it for the showroom is a very skilled voicer, one who is regularly brought in by a lot of dealers to doctor problem pianos, especially breaks in the scale. he himself told me that what he creates is a fragile illusion that quickly deteriorates.

i do have a local tech; he is not, so far as i know, an experienced voicer.

according to the experiences of those on the ptg board, there can indeed be very serious problems with even the very best pianos. and it's not even uncommon. i have, since december, been going along on the assumptions both of you have outlined, and bearing in mind that it is a new instrument that needs to settle in. i'm merely educating myself as best i can so that i can make my own determinations of whether there is a problem or not. i've already learned that just having faith in one's tech is not enough (as has derick).

thanks for pointing out that the test may be meaningless if the piano is not in perfect tune. since the one time the piano did not display the "dead zone" problem was immediately after a good tuning, i am hoping that the next tuning will resolve the problem--and the results will last longer than one night. i have a tuning scheduled with the local tech, so we will see.

can anyone explain why tuning changes sustain?
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#650246 - 05/08/02 10:50 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
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Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
I'm confused... Isn't A5 the first A above middle C? If that is the case, I thought the closest break on a Steinway B happened between the C#/D above this note. What am I missing here?

Thanks,
Derick
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#650247 - 05/08/02 11:00 AM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
I thought the first A above middle C was A4. If Middle C is C4, going up the scale would be D4,E4,F4, etc. or so I thought????

My B actually breaks at what I would call (based on above definition) B4/C5. I know it does not break at A5. I need to double check all this when I get home tonight.
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#650248 - 05/08/02 11:22 AM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
the very first note on the piano is A1. A5 is indeed the first A above middle C, which is C4.
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#650249 - 05/08/02 01:27 PM Re: Stanwood?
Alex Hernandez Offline
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Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
Hi everyone I didnt mean to crash the thread, but I wanted to perhaps clear up this whole numbers business. the first note on the piano is actually A0, The numbers don't start until you get to C1 the last note is C8.

And BTW sustain times tell you a little but the rate of decay of the true fundemental tells you a whole lot more about the instrument and its refinement.
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#650250 - 05/08/02 02:05 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
hi, alex,
thank you for clearing that up. and please do join the thread. we need your expertise.

now would you mind translating "the rate of decay of the true fundamental" for us? \:\)
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#650251 - 05/08/02 02:08 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Alex,

Thanks for clearing this up. Based on what you just said, what I thought was A6 on my piano is actually A5. This note sustains for 12 seconds indicating my piano has a dead soundboard according to the RPTG test.

Over lunch, I ran over to the local college that has 80+ Steinways. The student practice rooms have M's. Some are a little beat, but there are a few I'd call exceptional. I performed 'the test' and noticed sustain times were shorter than those I posted for my piano - about 1 second across the board.

I wouldn't classify any of these pianos as having a dead soundboard. Can you or another tech expand upon 'rate of decay'? I'd say that the sustain on my piano trails off at a fairly even rate. I don't hear a sustain problem with my piano, but maybe I'm used to it? Can you perform "the test" on a Bosie and post the results?

Thanks,
Derick
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#650252 - 05/08/02 02:20 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
a bluthner would be OK, too. ;\)
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#650253 - 05/08/02 02:30 PM Re: Stanwood?
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by pique:
hi, alex,
thank you for clearing that up. and please do join the thread. we need your expertise.

now would you mind translating "the rate of decay of the true fundamental" for us? \:\) [/b]
I'll give it a try \:\) , When a string is put into it's excursion it produces a fundemental( the lowest frequency it is capable of producing ) and the rest of the overtone series. If the string maintains a true vertical excursion and the soundboard transitions to a state of rest evenly then the rate at which the fundemental decays should be consistant with the rest of the overtone series traling off only before the string stops its excursion.

If either the string excursion or soundboard travel are not true or experience an interuption in a smooth transition to a state of rest you may hear the string change character becoming somewhat nasely in it's sound. This is reffered to as a longditudenal (sp?) roll.

This is something that hammer shaping and bridge seating of the string can have some influence over but in fact is a greater indication of bridge/soundboard/rim relationship and its overall construction ethic.

I hope it helps ;\)
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#650254 - 05/08/02 02:46 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
I'm not sure I completely understand, but thanks for the explanation.

I thought you sold Boesendorfers for some reason. Sorry about that.

Derick
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#650255 - 05/08/02 02:51 PM Re: Stanwood?
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
Hi Derick, feel free to give me ring perhaps I can do a little better on the phone.
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#650256 - 05/08/02 03:32 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
i may need some help on this, too. alex, may i attempt to recast your explanation, and you might tell me if i got it right or not? disclaimer: i am guessing at the following!

 Quote:
When a string is put into it's excursion it produces a fundemental( the lowest frequency it is capable of producing ) and the rest of the overtone series.
when a string is struck or plucked it produces the "fundamental"--its lowest frequency tone--plus a series of overtones.

 Quote:
If the string maintains a true vertical excursion...
if the string vibrates correctly for the duration of its sounding...

 Quote:
...and the soundboard transitions to a state of rest evenly
and the soundboard reflects the tone evenly for its full duration.

 Quote:
then the rate at which the fundemental decays should be consistant with the rest of the overtone series traling off only before the string stops its excursion.
then the fundamental tone and the overtones will decay at the same rate, and trail off only just before the string finally comes to rest.

 Quote:
If either the string excursion or soundboard travel are not true or experience an interuption in a smooth transition to a state of rest...
if either the string or the soundboard are not vibrating correctly--they are not in sync or the decay is not smooth...

 Quote:
you may hear the string change character becoming somewhat nasely in it's sound. This is reffered to as a longditudenal (sp?) roll.
the tone will turn nasal during the duration of its sounding. this is called a longitudinal roll (sp?)

voicing and seating of the strings may help, but it usually indicates an improper relationship between the bridge, soundboard, and rim.

whew! how did i do? and good thing this ain't a final exam. \:o

so, alex, does this mean that the quality of the tone is more important than the duration? and how does one test for this?
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#650257 - 05/08/02 04:08 PM Re: Stanwood?
lb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 1731
Loc: Indiana

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#650258 - 05/08/02 04:13 PM Re: Stanwood?
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

Whewww...Let me further try to splain myself.

Excursion is the travel of the string, If the string has a shallow excursion it wont produce a proper fundemental.

A true vertical excursion means that the string vibrates up and down and resist vibrating at a diagonal angle.

Soundboard transition means that from maximum throw, movement it comes to a state of rest evenly and without a drastic change. I.E. good movement to an immediate stop or shallow movement.

The soundboard doesnt reflect sound, its the rim that is responsible for that. the soundboard thru its impedence amplifies the the vibrations transmitted via the bridge ( I know you know this I am just trying to be clear ).

Strings and Soundboard are never in sync, its more a question of proper movement in conduction.

The bottom line is that a fine instrument demands these issues be addressed at the point of production.

Why is a $60,000 grand so much better then a $14,000 grand when both have the same basic types of design and perhaps the same actions and hammers? How can it be that 'roslau strings and solid spruce soundboards dont automatically ensure top performance every time out.

And the answer is......craftsmanship, One string can produce proper excursion while an identical design with the same materials will not perform as well. The reason is the care , expertise and attention to detail that a craftsman put into it ( such as ensuring proper downbearing).

I know I have digressed here but to me this is the larger issue when it comes to understanding the difference in quality between manufactures.

I hope I havent added to the confusion.

Oh and I almost forgot..The quality of tone is subjective. But it is widely acknowledged that the duration of the fundemental contributes to the quality of tone.
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#650259 - 05/08/02 04:37 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
pique,

Can you email me? I need to ask you a question.

Thanks,
Derick
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#650260 - 05/08/02 07:41 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
hi, derick,
i sent you an email a few hours ago, but there appears to be a problem with my server. alert me here if you don't get it.
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piqué

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#650261 - 05/08/02 08:14 PM Re: Stanwood?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3869
Too much downbearing will cause a sharp pointed attack and short sustain - too little downbearing will cause weak tone. I recently had to raise two strings at the end of a bridge due to inadequate downbearing. No amount of voicing would fix the weak tone. The deficiency in the height of the bridge could be easily measured with a ruler - it was that bad. Once I raised the strings, the tone improved.
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#650262 - 05/09/02 01:32 AM Re: Stanwood?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
Derick,

My B (1901) breaks in the plate three times. E2/F2, B4/C5, and E6/F6. A5 is smack in the middle of the breaks.

FWIW, The last agraff is on B4.

I wouldn't get too worried about those tests. If I'm not mistaken, that was only one tech's guideline. IMHO, it is too fine a line to apply on a blanket basis to *all* pianos. And even if it were to be applied to every piano, how do you know you stopped timing the note exactly when you should have to be consistent with the guideline?

In my opinion, although sustain is important and necessary, the over all *quality* of the tone (of which, sustain is a part of) as well as the consistency and evenness of the sound far out weighs small variations in results to a dogmatic test. I believe your test at the college somewhat supports my thesis. YMMV.
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#650263 - 05/09/02 08:08 AM Re: Stanwood?
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Very interesting---all.

My question is: If a piano has one note (say G#5) that exhibits a sustain problem (described as short fundamental w/quick decay), but all other notes around it are fine---can this be a downbearing or soundboard problem. I would assume that a problem w/downbearing or soundboard would affect a handful of notes in a particular area.

I have always had a bit of a problem with one single note on my M&H BB--(G#5), but it is the only note in that octave that really exhibits this problem. My tech is working on it, having resolved a couple other problems in that octave, but this one particular note is a real "stinker".

Any suggestions as to a more aggressive approach to this note---or could it actually be a downbearing related problem?

BTW, this same note was a problem when I had the Renner Blues & now w/the Steinway hammers as well(a little better now, but not much)

Thanks, Mat D.

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#650264 - 05/09/02 11:38 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
John,

Thanks for the info. I stopped in Barnes and Noble looked thru The Piano Book. They only give my piano passing mention \:\( . Anyway, I looked at Fine's test. He suggested plucking a string in the killer octave and said the sustain should be 'clearly audible' for 5 seconds or more. If less than 5 seconds, the soundboard or bridge have a problem. I tried this and the note was clearly audible well beyond the 10 seconds.

I think pique must have a super piano ;\) . Sustain on my piano doesn't reach into the 20 second mark until the C3 octave.

Just for kicks, I timed A0. But I timed it from striking point until I couldn't hear a sound. That took 68-70 seconds.

In any case, I don't hear a sustain problem except for one note that irks me which I'll address in a post to Mat D.

Derick
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#650265 - 05/09/02 11:54 AM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Mat,

I know that some pianos have soundboards with dead spots in them, but they are usually of the poorest quality and with plywood soundboards.

I would think the 'pluck' test could give you an idea if there might be a downbearing issue. If all the notes around this one sustain longer, than perhaps it is downbearing?

As you know, I'm not a tech so I'm just spewing out what little I've picked up; hopefully one of the techs will politely tell me I've got my head up my butt (if I do) \:\) .

B3 irks me on my piano. It has this 'clunky' sound. Hard to explain other than the attack is a little more aggressive than most notes, then the sustain takes a quick 'nose-dive' in volume but than it hangs on and decays normally after that.

The 'pluck' test doesn't indicate any problem with the soundboard/bridge, so I suspect it's a voicing issue. However, all the other notes that were bothering me cleared up with the new hammers but this problem has persisted. It's also VERY difficult to explain to a tech and all have said they don't hear it. I know I'm not imagining it. I wish I knew how to explain it better.

Derick
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#650266 - 05/09/02 01:05 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
derick,
did you get my email? have you tried to write back? i haven't received anything so just wondering if i have a server problem. thanks.
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#650267 - 05/09/02 01:14 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Hi pique,

Yes, I got it last night and responded. You still haven't received mine???

Your email is no longer on the server (it's on my hard disk at home). If you want, send me another email, I'll be able to retrieve it here at work and respond back to you.

BTW, Jodi is asking you to join us for a cup of coffee (just in case you didn't see her post). It's a pretty dull and boring place without you.

Derick
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#650268 - 05/09/02 01:20 PM Re: Stanwood?
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
Sometimes sustain problems can be attributed to shallow bridge notching, or notching that is to forward of the bridge pin itself.
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#650269 - 05/09/02 01:31 PM Re: Stanwood?
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
ok, i didn't get your email, but i am receiving email from others. i'll send another now.
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#650270 - 05/09/02 01:41 PM Re: Stanwood?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
pique,

YGM. Hopefully!

Let me know,
Derick
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#650271 - 05/09/02 01:46 PM Re: Stanwood?
Mat D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Derick--my G#5 passes the pluck test--no problem. I think it is a voicing issue and we haven't quite hit on it yet.

Mat

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#650272 - 05/10/02 10:28 AM Re: Stanwood?
Eldon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 597
Loc: Illinois
Pigue,
Gee, I'd like an e-mail, too. \:\) keyboard@internet-stat.com
Gotta go...busy day.
_________________________
Sincerely,
Eldon

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#650273 - 05/10/02 02:35 PM Re: Stanwood?
Brian Lawson, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/04/01
Posts: 647
Loc: South Africa
One other thing (can't remeber who said) the Killer octave is like where the sand stops and the shores begin - ie its a different point in each piano, but is within that A4 break area.
_________________________
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Johannesburg
South Africa

http://www.lawsonic.co.za

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