WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action

Posted by: pianoloverus

WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/04/11 10:07 PM

What are the main differences between these two composite actions?

Do either have some advantages(disadvantages) that the other doesn't have?
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/04/11 10:19 PM

Many differences between the actions, PL. The goal is the same. The goal is to achieve more stability and consistency within the components of an action. This is achieved by removing the variability of organic components.

Both achieve this.

The chief difference between them is that the Millenium was designed to be an action for a Kawai. The design of the WNG allows it to be virtually universal. IOW, I can customize the placement of many of the subcomponents to achieve a final design that is simply unavailable today otherwise. THAT is cool! thumb
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/04/11 10:35 PM

By the way, I think it is inevitable that a comparison to the Steinway teflon bushings will be made in a thread like this one. I thought it might be germain to include the thoughts of a man who was responsible for the manufacture and delivery of millions of these teflon bushings to S&S for use in their pianos:

Hardy Von Auenmueller comments on the teflon bushing and WNG.
Posted by: schwammerl

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/05/11 01:39 AM

Quote:
The goal is to achieve more stability and consistency within the components of an action.


Rich,

And there is no second goal, that of acheiving components with less mass and thus an action with less inertia?

schwammerl.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/05/11 06:55 AM

Originally Posted By: schwammerl
Quote:
The goal is to achieve more stability and consistency within the components of an action.


Rich,

And there is no second goal, that of acheiving components with less mass and thus an action with less inertia?

schwammerl.


Sure, they have a little less mass, but this makes a very small difference when compared to the weight of an extended lever with a hammer on the end. Proper balancing and killer response can be achieved quite easily with fine wooden parts.

This is absolutely a selling point of composite parts though, IMHO.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 09:58 AM

Quote:
Do either have some advantages(disadvantages) that the other doesn't have?


Actually the differences are significant -- with the WNG being superior.

1) The WNG action uses carbon fiber tubes for the hammershanks whereas the Kawai still uses wood. The detailed discussion is on the WNG site, but there is much variability in the stiffness of wood from one piece to another that is eliminated by the consistency of the CF.

2) The M-III still uses felt bushings whereas the WNG uses solid bushings. This gives a far stiffer hinge joint (good) with significantly lower friction (also good) and dramatically reduced susceptibility to humidity fluctuations over time resulting in reduced service needs (also good). Even with correctly adjusted felt bushings, extended playing creates heat which increases the friction of the bushing -- turning it into a brake lining, as it were.

3) The mass difference in the wippen isn't so much in the absolute weight of the thing as it is in the placement of the weight -- which is closer to the centerpin with a reduced inertial impact. How significant this is, I don't know as I haven't used the wippens yet. I would expect with static action "balancing" techniques it wouldn't show up as much as all. Dynamically, it might. But, certainly, the more significant factors would be the first two above.
Posted by: Tom Burgess

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 10:38 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
[quote] ...Even with correctly adjusted felt bushings, extended playing creates heat which increases the friction of the bushing -- turning it into a brake lining, as it were.

Interesting. What is the before / after temperature differential of the felt bushings in this type of situation?
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 10:51 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Quote:
Do either have some advantages(disadvantages) that the other doesn't have?


Actually the differences are significant -- with the WNG being superior.

Even with correctly adjusted felt bushings, extended playing creates heat which increases the friction of the bushing -- turning it into a brake lining, as it were.



Please tell us more about this ....
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 10:58 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Quote:
Do either have some advantages(disadvantages) that the other doesn't have?


Actually the differences are significant -- with the WNG being superior.



This gives a far stiffer hinge joint (good) with significantly lower friction (also good).


Misleading.

I would argue that both have proper friction. Side to side may be better in the WNG.

Performance depends on the proper friction. Putting friction down too low favors a more specific style of playing.
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 11:43 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Quote:
Do either have some advantages(disadvantages) that the other doesn't have?


Actually the differences are significant -- with the WNG being superior.

1) The WNG action uses carbon fiber tubes for the hammershanks whereas the Kawai still uses wood. The detailed discussion is on the WNG site, but there is much variability in the stiffness of wood from one piece to another that is eliminated by the consistency of the CF.

2) The M-III still uses felt bushings whereas the WNG uses solid bushings. This gives a far stiffer hinge joint (good) with significantly lower friction (also good) and dramatically reduced susceptibility to humidity fluctuations over time resulting in reduced service needs (also good). Even with correctly adjusted felt bushings, extended playing creates heat which increases the friction of the bushing -- turning it into a brake lining, as it were.

3) The mass difference in the wippen isn't so much in the absolute weight of the thing as it is in the placement of the weight -- which is closer to the centerpin with a reduced inertial impact. How significant this is, I don't know as I haven't used the wippens yet. I would expect with static action "balancing" techniques it wouldn't show up as much as all. Dynamically, it might. But, certainly, the more significant factors would be the first two above.



In response to 1) the new Kawai Ninja M3 Action uses Phenolic Stablizers positioned on both sides of the hammer shanks in the new Blak pianos. I got a response from Kawai Don on this matter, he wrote:


The phenolic stabilizers are simply an improvement in the action which helps it perform better, adding a more positive motion to the hammer shank during forte playing. The M-III action was quite well tested prior to being released, and there were no real kinks to work out once it went into production in 2004. The GE-30 grand piano still uses that same action. The Phenolic Stabilizers could be used in an all-wood grand action as well - but then it wouldn't be all wood, would it?

The Phenolic Resin stabilizers do not apply to upright pianos - there is no place to use them in an upright action. They are not applied to the GE series grand pianos for cost reasons.

I hope this helps to clarify things.
_________________________
Don Mannino RPT
Kawai America

End quote.

So it seems Kawai figured this weak spot out if you want to call it one. From what you compared from the WNG it seems like adding the phenolic stabilizers definitely improves the performance compared to the original M3 or does it?
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 12:32 PM

Both the Kawai and the WNG are extremely well thought out.

It is my opinion that the actual regulation of these parts is the most important "feature" and has the greatest impact on the pianist. Therefore, in premium wood vs synthetic materials, and in the context of the rest of the build of the piano, the pianist will differentiate action parts mostly on overall keyboard design and regulation first.

As the premium woods become more scarce and costly, synthetic materials will become more attractive and practical.

One thing I like about the WNG repetition is the ability to modify the design to meet an existing challenge. An example on my bench at the moment is a 1980's Baldwin L that the client has asked for a change in the feel of the action. The WNG accommodates the new key ratio by offering the modifiable repetition. This lets the overall action ratio be lowered, reducing lead in the keys and lowering inertia.

This is a very cost effective solution.


Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 02:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Larry Buck

One thing I like about the WNG repetition is the ability to modify the design to meet an existing challenge. An example on my bench at the moment is a 1980's Baldwin L that the client has asked for a change in the feel of the action. The WNG accommodates the new key ratio by offering the modifiable repetition. This lets the overall action ratio be lowered, reducing lead in the keys and lowering inertia.

This is a very cost effective solution.


Larry,

You said it better than I did. Thank you.

But then... what is exposition without development? smile
Posted by: Del

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 02:51 PM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
2) The M-III still uses felt bushings whereas the WNG uses solid bushings. This gives a far stiffer hinge joint (good) with significantly lower friction (also good) and dramatically reduced susceptibility to humidity fluctuations over time resulting in reduced service needs (also good). Even with correctly adjusted felt bushings, extended playing creates heat which increases the friction of the bushing -- turning it into a brake lining, as it were.

I’m not sure heat is actually an issue. It might be, I suppose, but I doubt anyone has actually been able to measure this. More likely the situation you are referring to is related to the practice of some—notably Renner—to brush a small amount of graphite on the bushing felt before it is installed in the flange. After some amount of playing—which can be either continuous or broken up into brief intervals—these action centers show a tendency to freeze up and become sluggish; in the worst cases rendering the actions unplayable until the offending action centers are disassembled, the graphite crust broken up and removed and new pins installed.

Usually this effect has been attributed to graphite’s hygroscopic characteristic and its tendency to “glaze” when polished and not to an excess of heat. The parts remain sluggish even after the piano has not been played for some time.

To my knowledge this has not been an issue with any iteration of Kawai’s composite actions.

ddf
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 04:12 PM

I have not actually worked with WNG parts or the most recent Kawai parts. However, I've played enough pianos with both, and read enough about both to feel confident enough to give my impression.


Either set of parts can produce a well-functioning action. However, I think WNG is probably superior. It's just a very well thought out, cohesive approach to action excellence: very dimensionally stable composite material, low friction capstans and keypins that don't need polishing, low-friction hard bushings; action parts designed to be low inertia, etc. However, I have heard some complaints about clicking parts. This has not been an issue with any of the WNG actions I've played.

Now, I think it's great that Kawai pioneered the use of ABS material/ composites in actions, especially since they stuck to it when everyone else laughed at them. However, I think Kawai's are usually very dissatisfying to play because they're sluggish. Because the Shigeru Kawais I've encountered don't seem to have this problem, even though they use the same parts (yes?), I blame the standards to which the action is assembled, not the parts. While some people do like the feel of a heavy touch, I'm not one of them, so I see this as a real disadvantage.
Posted by: Robert 45

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 07:04 PM

Although I have encountered some sluggish, heavy actions in some of the older Kawai grand pianos, I believe that the newer instruments, and certainly those from 2004 with the Kawai Millenium III action have an excellent touch and response.
Recently, at Parson's Piano shop in Shanghai, I had the pleasure of trying the full range of Shigeru Kawai models and K Kawai grands.
In an adjoining showroom there was a selection of prestigious European concert grands, but not including Steinway and Sons nor Bösendorfer. My impression was that the action response of both the Shigeru and K Kawai grands was more sensitive and smoother.

Regards,

Robert.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 07:34 PM

You could very well be right, though I've played a fair share of newer Kawais during the past few years that were much too heavy.

I definitely have a bias towards light actions with slightly shallower key dip, which most people probably wouldn't like.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 08:25 PM

Quote:

1) The WNG action uses carbon fiber tubes for the hammershanks whereas the Kawai still uses wood. The detailed discussion is on the WNG site, but there is much variability in the stiffness of wood from one piece to another that is eliminated by the consistency of the CF.


Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this subject.

Renner recently pointed out to me that wooden hammershanks have quite a different ['bending'] flex on impact by hammer than composite materials allow. It's something that apparently transfers stress quite differently into centre pins, felt material and composite surfaces.

I am no expert on this but found their research data compelling. It was no "company hype" the way I understood things - Germany could no doubt build the finest engineered actions in the world - whatever material is used.

It was Renner's belief this made or "could make" a difference in long run - showing this on time lapse film taken over time.

Personally I believe that these innovations need some time to show what and if any improvements are actually being accomplished.

It is quite possible they "do" but I never quite understood what the problem was in the first place.... confused

At same time one also needs to respect a company's efforts for innovation. The ones making it right now are certainly of great esteem. They have my personal respect for doing it "their way"

We certainly shouldn't wage one against the other and let consumers make their own choice - by learning along the way.

Fact is that there seems to have been no problems to date.

Personally I'm a bit reserved but basically neutral on the issue. If things work better than traditional methods,- at least mecanically speaking - it's better for others here to show how and why.

To be frank, we never had problems with the current actions of the pianos we represent. Nor am I aware of any others I am familiar with.

I'm sure world's big companies are closely watching things.

It's tough competition out there and everybody is looking for the edge. Newly designed actions could be one - or "not"


What's certifiably better today, will surely be adopted by others tomorrow.

Or simply "bought" - whole piano companies are...

Let's stay positive - all here to learn!

Norbert smile
Posted by: KawaiDon

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/06/11 11:42 PM

An expression of superiority in pianos, even the actions, pretty much always involves a certain amount of opinion and personal taste. So whenever someone makes a simple statement that one thing is "superior" to another, I always look for an explanation of what lead to this statement.

Kawai tested Carbon fiber hammer shanks, and rejected them for tone and touch reasons. The engineering department even drew up a patent application for the precise design WN&G have adopted, but decided not to apply for the patent because we would not use the design. This doesn't mean that one can categorically say one is better than the other, but for Kawai, the wood shanks provided the feel and tone qualities that we want in our pianos. So from Kawai's point of view the wood hammer shanks are definitely "superior" to carbon fiber ones.

There is a lot of merit in hard bushings to replace felt. However, there are also a lot of benefits to the cloth. Serviceability, longevity, and predictability are all very good with well made cloth bushed action centers. Variation in friction from humidity changes, and softness of the cloth are the principle drawbacks. However, there are real drawbacks to using hard bushings, including difficult service procedures and inability to replace the bushings themselves without changing the whole part.

No matter what part of a piano you look at, there are tradeoffs being made between one benefit and another, and that is part of what gives each company their own identity and gives their instruments unique character. How does the French saying go? "Vive la différence."

As for a heavy feeling touch in a M-III action, this means that it needs regulation. Since Shigeru Kawai pianos tend to be maintained in very good regulation they rarely will feel heavy like this. But the RX actions should not feel heavy when they are in good regulation.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/07/11 01:37 AM

Originally Posted By: KawaiDon
Kawai tested Carbon fiber hammer shanks, and rejected them for tone and touch reasons. The engineering department even drew up a patent application for the precise design WN&G have adopted, but decided not to apply for the patent because we would not use the design. This doesn't mean that one can categorically say one is better than the other, but for Kawai, the wood shanks provided the feel and tone qualities that we want in our pianos. So from Kawai's point of view the wood hammer shanks are definitely "superior" to carbon fiber ones.


Yeah. This is one I'm still trying to decide for myself. All but one of the WNG actions I've played were in Steingraeber-Phoenix pianos, where there were too many variables to just evaluate the shanks by themselves. The other piano was a brand new M&H B. While there was perhaps some difference, it was mostly insignificant, and certainly not bad. I think for these to be most successful, a very resilient hammer is needed.

Originally Posted By: KawaiDon
There is a lot of merit in hard bushings to replace felt. However, there are also a lot of benefits to the cloth. Serviceability, longevity, and predictability are all very good with well made cloth bushed action centers. Variation in friction from humidity changes, and softness of the cloth are the principle drawbacks. However, there are real drawbacks to using hard bushings, including difficult service procedures and inability to replace the bushings themselves without changing the whole part.


I've heard similar concerns before. What I'm curious about is what the friction tolerances in the pinning are because some rebuilders re-pin even brand new parts to precisely control friction.


Originally Posted By: KawaiDon
As for a heavy feeling touch in a M-III action, this means that it needs regulation. Since Shigeru Kawai pianos tend to be maintained in very good regulation they rarely will feel heavy like this. But the RX actions should not feel heavy when they are in good regulation.


I respectfully disagree. While it's true that a poorly regulated piano will not perform well, there is a difference between that sensation and a high inertia/ friction sensation. Most of the non-Shigeru Kawais I've played have had a heavy touch.

Even the ones in my care at university, after undergoing a thorough regulation (let-off, drop, springs, checking, hammer blow, etc.) and a thorough friction treatment (Flitz and McLube 444 on key pins and capstans, and Teflon powder on the knuckles), were still too heavy. I recommended touchweight analysis and correction for these pianos.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/07/11 10:46 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986


Originally Posted By: KawaiDon
As for a heavy feeling touch in a M-III action, this means that it needs regulation. Since Shigeru Kawai pianos tend to be maintained in very good regulation they rarely will feel heavy like this. But the RX actions should not feel heavy when they are in good regulation.


I respectfully disagree. While it's true that a poorly regulated piano will not perform well, there is a difference between that sensation and a high inertia/ friction sensation. Most of the non-Shigeru Kawais I've played have had a heavy touch.

Even the ones in my care at university, after undergoing a thorough regulation (let-off, drop, springs, checking, hammer blow, etc.) and a thorough friction treatment (Flitz and McLube 444 on key pins and capstans, and Teflon powder on the knuckles), were still too heavy. I recommended touchweight analysis and correction for these pianos.



Beethoven,

In a prior post you state that you have no actual experience working with the new Kawai composite actions, and your signature says that you are a "piano technician in training" - yet you are denigrating an excellent design of a company that has achieved incredible results through their dedication to non-traditional parts and technology. You are also implying, perhaps unwittingly, that the M-III action suffers from "high inertia/friction".

I have tuned and tweaked many dozens of brand new Kawai instruments, including a fair number of new Shigeru pianos, and I find your statements to be completely inaccurate and somewhat outrageous. The action feel on the RX series grands is superb, and in no way does it feel heavy at all. Not once have I found any reason to consider doing any type of touchweight correction on any new Kawai. Every client I have worked with on their Kawai (including some seriously gifted pro players) has been thrilled with the feel of the M-III action.

Yes, as with any instrument, further refinements are almost always needed as cloth and felt compress. This also includes the most expensive European and American pianos.

One of the great joys of working as a pro player and pro technician is the chance to experience different instruments day in/day out. This is a gift! If you are more open to celebrating the differences in personality between pianos - and can learn to appreciate the value and distinguishing features of instruments manufactured at different price points - you will be a much more effective technician. And you will also be more likely to provide better service to your future clients.

I also feel that if you weren't posting anonymously you probably would not have made these statements. After all, this is a very small industry, and people will remember what you say and do, especially if it involves unfounded negativity.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/07/11 06:30 PM

Originally Posted By: James Carney
In a prior post you state that you have no actual experience working with the new Kawai composite actions.


I do not have experience with the newest version of the Kawai actions. This does not mean that I don't have experience working on older Kawai composite actions, and it also doesn't mean that I don't have experience playing Kawais with the newest version.

Originally Posted By: James Carney
and your signature says that you are a "piano technician in training" - yet you are denigrating an excellent design of a company that has achieved incredible results through their dedication to non-traditional parts and technology.


"Denigrating" is an outrageous exaggeration, and I have no idea how you inferred that from my post. Kawai should be lauded for its pioneering efforts in materials science, especially when everyone else was laughing at them. I don't think the Kawai parts are bad; it's just my impression is that WNG is far superior.

And since you're inferring that, as a "technician in training", I'm not really qualified to have that impression....

For the past two years, I've worked in a university shop, which was a valuable experience. During that time, I've made lots of connections, toured three factories, and done more hammer filing, action regulation, key rebushing, string replacement, center repinning, hammer hanging, and touchweight correction work than a lot of professional technicians, all while studying piano at the graduate level.


Originally Posted By: James Carney
You are also implying, perhaps unwittingly, that the M-III action suffers from "high inertia/friction".


I'm saying that most of the non-Shigeru Kawais I've come across (either working on them as a tech or playing them as a pianist) have a heavier touch. Inertia and friction tend to be causes of that, so, yes. In my experience, Shigeru Kawais, which I believe use the same parts, do not have this characteristic.

Originally Posted By: James Carney
I have tuned and tweaked many dozens of brand new Kawai instruments, including a fair number of new Shigeru pianos, and I find your statements to be completely inaccurate and somewhat outrageous.


I have stated numerous times, including this thread, that I personally have a preference for light actions. In fact, it's probably safe to say that most pianos are heavier than I prefer.


Originally Posted By: James Carney
The action feel on the RX series grands is superb, and in no way does it feel heavy at all. Not once have I found any reason to consider doing any type of touchweight correction on any new Kawai. Every client I have worked with on their Kawai (including some seriously gifted pro players) has been thrilled with the feel of the M-III action.


Touchweight correction is more or less a standard procedure where I was working, time and money permitting, whether it's a 30 year old practice room grand or the concert grands in the hall.


Originally Posted By: James Carney
One of the great joys of working as a pro player and pro technician is the chance to experience different instruments day in/day out. This is a gift! If you are more open to celebrating the differences in personality between pianos - and can learn to appreciate the value and distinguishing features of instruments manufactured at different price points - you will be a much more effective technician. And you will also be more likely to provide better service to your future clients.


I agree with you only to a point. If I don't like a piano, I can live without playing it, or working on it (at least for now).

Originally Posted By: James Carney
I also feel that if you weren't posting anonymously you probably would not have made these statements. After all, this is a very small industry, and people will remember what you say and do, especially if it involves unfounded negativity.


While this is probably true for other comments I've made around here, particularly about Steinway, I don't think it's true in this instance. Regardless, I am well within my rights to be anonymous, especially since I have no affiliation with any companies and have not yet made a living in the industry. If you have a problem with the forum policy, you can appeal to the moderators. Technicians who have read enough of my posts will probably make the connection if I ever meet them in person, anyway.
Posted by: ChrisVenables

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/07/11 07:01 PM

Nicely put James.

I would suggest Beethoven checks out the official Kawai regulation spec, which, IMHO is about the best and most comprehensive free instruction a tech can get:http://www.kawaius-tsd.com/PDF/Regulation%20GP-English.pdf. Thank you Kawai for sharing this technical info with us.

Beethoven, only a maybe, but Kawai pianos have a softer tone than many US pianos and other Asian pianos, thereby the softer tone (less output to input) can give you the impression of a heavier touch. Have you actually weighed the Kawai actions you say are heavy? Because, correctly regulated, they should behave similarly to a correctly regulated Yamaha or Steinway.

Regarding the benefits of an 'inert'composite action, the Kawai or WNG actions may well be less susceptible to humidity fluctuations. However, the 'composite' action stack is sitting on a foundation of wooden keyframe and a wooden keybed and as these wooden components move with humidity fluctuations, this in turn affects the general action regulation. (You only need give the domes a slight twist to make major changes to the key depth and key height - humidity does this free of charge.) So until other important wooden components such as keyframe, keybed, soundboard, bridges and tuning plank could ever(?) be made from composites, there is little benefit in fitting composite action parts.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/07/11 08:37 PM

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
Nicely put James.


No it wasn't.

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
I would suggest Beethoven checks out the official Kawai regulation spec, which, IMHO is about the best and most comprehensive free instruction a tech can get:http://www.kawaius-tsd.com/PDF/Regulation%20GP-English.pdf. Thank you Kawai for sharing this technical info with us.


I know how to do all this, so other than using it as a checklist, I'm not really sure how it would help me, to be honest. This doesn't actually teach how to do any of those things, and I can't imagine that anything could, other than by learning from a technician and practicing.

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
Beethoven, only a maybe, but Kawai pianos have a softer tone than many US pianos and other Asian pianos, thereby the softer tone (less output to input) can give you the impression of a heavier touch.


It's easy to distinguish the difference between a soft tone and a heavy action.

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
Have you actually weighed the Kawai actions you say are heavy?


Some.

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
Because, correctly regulated, they should behave similarly to a correctly regulated Yamaha or Steinway.


I've played everything from Yamahas to Steinways and Boesendorfers with wildly different touch characteristics within their respective brands. Why is the possibility of this happening with Kawai so shocking?

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
Regarding the benefits of an 'inert'composite action, the Kawai or WNG actions may well be less susceptible to humidity fluctuations. However, the 'composite' action stack is sitting on a foundation of wooden keyframe and a wooden keybed and as these wooden components move with humidity fluctuations, this in turn affects the general action regulation. (You only need give the domes a slight twist to make major changes to the key depth and key height - humidity does this free of charge.) So until other important wooden components such as keyframe, keybed, soundboard, bridges and tuning plank could ever(?) be made from composites, there is little benefit in fitting composite action parts.


Don't tell this to Kawai or WNG. They might want their R&D money back.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 07:50 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I have not actually worked with WNG parts or the most recent Kawai parts. However, I've played enough pianos with both, and read enough about both to feel confident enough to give my impression....


Again, if you haven't worked with either the WNG or the Kawai M-III parts, how can you state that one is "probably superior?"


Originally Posted By: beethoven986
.....However, I think Kawai's are usually very dissatisfying to play because they're sluggish. Because the Shigeru Kawais I've encountered don't seem to have this problem, even though they use the same parts (yes?), I blame the standards to which the action is assembled, not the parts. While some people do like the feel of a heavy touch, I'm not one of them, so I see this as a real disadvantage.


Saying "However, I think Kawai's are usually very dissatisfying to play because they're sluggish" pretty much defines the word denigration. It is different than just saying "I don't like the Kawai action" and it is the main reason why I bothered signing in to post on this thread in the first place.

You are a frequent poster here, and people come on these forums looking for advice. Pianos are complicated and the search to buy one can be arduous and frustrating. Most buyers (and pianists) know very little about the technical aspects of the instrument. Everything you say about a brand or a feature has the chance to influence someone one way or the other. Are you getting my point? We all need to be responsible with our words.

I stand behind everything I wrote in my other post.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 08:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Chris Venables
...until other important wooden components such as keyframe, keybed, soundboard, bridges and tuning plank could ever(?) be made from composites, there is little benefit in fitting composite action parts.


Hi Chris,

First, I always enjoy your posts and I do not disagree with your responses until this last statement.

While you have a point in that pianos are ever changing beasts because of the nature of their construction, the composite action parts have been a boon on a couple of fronts.

1) Today's WNG action with hard bushings is absolutely less effected by climactic changes than a standard new action, particularly in the initial settling in period. We have had successful projects placed in recording studios, teaching studios, and schools using WNG. Some of these folks, particularly Front Row Seat Productions make their living based on the performance of their facilities. This was not a quick decision for any of these people.

2) The WNG allows rebuilders to choose sub-components and literally design the correct dimensions based on either an original design or a redesigned action.

I will be the first to admit that there is no perfect solution out there, but simply dismissing this technology seems akin to thinking that since I cannot control what diseases and chronic issues my family is prone to, I might as well not do anything that might improve my chances, like controlling diet and exercise, etc.

My 2 cents,
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 08:49 AM

By the way, great thread all!

James, you ain't just another cool jazzer. (But I knew that already) wink
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 09:26 AM

Beethoven:

You say that you have a bias toward lighter actions, yet find actions that are too heavey to you as needing re-design. In fact, you find most pianos needing lighter actions. I don't hear that complaint from others.

I think you need to reconsider your subjectivity on this and realize that the problem is that pianos manufacturing standards are heavier than you prefer.

The ability to adjust the action geometry afforded by the WSG action is clearly an advantage, but only in rebuilding situations.
Posted by: apple*

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 09:27 AM

this is a great thread in an informational kind of way.
Posted by: ChrisVenables

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 11:55 AM

Beethoven

Please weigh all the actions you say are heavy and let us know what the down and return weights are. Kawai's engineering is excellent and if you have followed their spec reg and the weights are within Kawai's parameters yet you think they're heavy, then we have an interesting discussion.

Rich

I love you too!

I was a little short sighted in my comment that there is little benefit in fitting composite action parts as I based my view on that of a new piano retailer, ie I didn't even consider the matter from that of a rebuilder, so I take your point.

When I used to sell new Kawais even before the composite actions were introduced - and to this day with new Yamaha - I never had to recentre any Kawai or Yamaha piano. Maybe it's because the climate in the UK doesn't have such high humidity swings as in the US.... Whatever the reason, a well engineered action made with treated quality cloth centres and well seasoned wood is, to continue your medical analogy, something not to be sneezed at.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 12:16 PM

Chris, as much as I'd love to do that, I'm currently about 1000 miles away from said pianos.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 12:21 PM

Steve, while I do acknowledge this bias, I was not the only pianist or technician to think that these particular pianos were somewhat heavier than normal.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 12:42 PM

Originally Posted By: James Carney
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I have not actually worked with WNG parts or the most recent Kawai parts. However, I've played enough pianos with both, and read enough about both to feel confident enough to give my impression....


Again, if you haven't worked with either the WNG or the Kawai M-III parts, how can you state that one is "probably superior?"


In my original post, I stated that it was my impression. As a pianist, I definitely prefer the touch characteristics of WNG actions I've played. As a technician, I've held the WNG parts in my hand and they look to be very high quality (not that Kawai's aren't), however, I could very well end up rebuilding an action with these parts in the future and hate them. That's why I said it was an impression. Your persistence on this is starting to get ridiculous.

Also, I have worked on the M-III, just not the most recent version, the M-III Ninja with the "Phenolic Stablizers". In other threads on PW, there seems to be little dissent with the notion that older Kawai actions, at least, are heavier.



Originally Posted By: James Carney
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
.....However, I think Kawai's are usually very dissatisfying to play because they're sluggish. Because the Shigeru Kawais I've encountered don't seem to have this problem, even though they use the same parts (yes?), I blame the standards to which the action is assembled, not the parts. While some people do like the feel of a heavy touch, I'm not one of them, so I see this as a real disadvantage.


Saying "However, I think Kawai's are usually very dissatisfying to play because they're sluggish" pretty much defines the word denigration. It is different than just saying "I don't like the Kawai action" and it is the main reason why I bothered signing in to post on this thread in the first place.


No, it's not. Denigration more or less implies a sinister connotation, akin to libel. What I said is really just a criticism based on my experiences. Anyone with decent reading comprehension can make the distinction between what ultimately is an opinion, and a fact.

Posted by: Roy123

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 03:24 PM

One possible advantage of composite actions that hasn't been mentioned is the potential for a lower cost. Wooden action parts are machined, and composite parts are molded. One family mold could pop out all the parts needed for one note, for example. Some post machining would be required, of course. Total cost is a combination of materials, time, processing, labor, and so on, so it would be difficult to make a definitive statement without having the complete picture. It is interesting to note that molded plastic is extensively used in most very low cost consumer items. I could imagine a highly automated process for making composite actions--all you'd need is enough volume to pay for the tooling.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 05:10 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986


For the past two years...
Two years? Wow.

Quote:
While this is probably true for other comments I've made around here, particularly about Steinway, I don't think it's true in this instance. Regardless, I am well within my rights to be anonymous, especially since I have no affiliation with any companies and have not yet made a living in the industry. If you have a problem with the forum policy, you can appeal to the moderators. Technicians who have read enough of my posts will probably make the connection if I ever meet them in person, anyway.


Well, not to worry. Now that you are no longer a school boy, you'll be out in the world and finally getting a true education. You'll look back at some of the comments you made here and wonder what you were thinking.

At least that's how it worked for me. :-)
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 05:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Originally Posted By: beethoven986


For the past two years...
Two years? Wow.


Forgive me, but I am unsure if you're being sarcastic or not. I kind of feel like you probably are, but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Quote:
While this is probably true for other comments I've made around here, particularly about Steinway, I don't think it's true in this instance. Regardless, I am well within my rights to be anonymous, especially since I have no affiliation with any companies and have not yet made a living in the industry. If you have a problem with the forum policy, you can appeal to the moderators. Technicians who have read enough of my posts will probably make the connection if I ever meet them in person, anyway.


Well, not to worry. Now that you are no longer a school boy, you'll be out in the world and finally getting a true education. You'll look back at some of the comments you made here and wonder what you were thinking.

At least that's how it worked for me. :-)


I frankly don't even really know how to respond to this. What makes you think that I didn't get a true education? True, the ivory tower inevitably shields most people from the "real world" to a degree, including myself, I considered it a valuable experience. I got to see and do things, and meet people that I probably wouldn't have if I entered the "real world" after high school.

As for me potentially regretting various comments I've made on here in the future, I think everyone here has said things that they regret in one way or another. I'm sure I've said my fair share, and probably haven't always been as courteous as I should have been, but we all have our moments.

I don't pretend to be the absolute authority on all things piano related. However, the implication in this thread that I don't know what I'm talking about is absurd, and doesn't do anyone much good except, perhaps, to stroke a few egos. Let's all move on, shall we?
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 07:43 PM

I watched this Kawai video on "Making a Grand Piano". If you scan through it, there is a part showing how they put the M3 action together. It is mostly done by machine, but it seems some hand-made adjustments are required.





I am just curious are the WNG actions put together by machines or more hands on oriented, since they are mostly used in restored pianos. It seems Kawai parts are made, then pieced together separately. Interesting.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 08:07 PM

Woah, neat! Thanks for sharing that, Aliwally!


I would guess that the WNG parts involve some sort of automated process, but are assembled into the pianos by hand at M&H and the small shops that use it for rebuilding. I guess Petrof is also using WNG in its Monsoon STEEL piano that we're talking about in another thread.
Posted by: Aliwally

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/08/11 10:09 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Woah, neat! Thanks for sharing that, Aliwally!


I would guess that the WNG parts involve some sort of automated process, but are assembled into the pianos by hand at M&H and the small shops that use it for rebuilding. I guess Petrof is also using WNG in its Monsoon STEEL piano that we're talking about in another thread.


No problem, I thought it was pretty neat too. My only thing about seeing something like this makes me think that a consumer grade piano or (even mass produced professional grade piano, not all). Don't get treated like this, especially the lower-end pianos whether Grand or Upright.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/09/11 09:22 AM

Originally Posted By: ChrisVenables
Nicely put James.

I would suggest Beethoven checks out the official Kawai regulation spec, which, IMHO is about the best and most comprehensive free instruction a tech can get:http://www.kawaius-tsd.com/PDF/Regulation%20GP-English.pdf. Thank you Kawai for sharing this technical info with us.



Hey Chris,

I agree - Kawai did a beautiful job with these tech manuals. The photos are superb and I would think that the majority of technicians would be able to glean some very useful information from them.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/09/11 09:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Rich Galassini
By the way, great thread all!

James, you ain't just another cool jazzer. (But I knew that already) wink


Hey Rich, hope it's cooler in Philly than it is here. Yuck!
Posted by: KawaiDon

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/10/11 11:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Roy123
One possible advantage of composite actions that hasn't been mentioned is the potential for a lower cost. Wooden action parts are machined, and composite parts are molded. . . . . . It is interesting to note that molded plastic is extensively used in most very low cost consumer items.


Roy,

This is a very common misconception. It is true that it is possible to have cheap products molded cheaply. But when you are working with the precision required to make a piano action, and the stiffness and mass properties must be very accurately controlled, it is rather expensive to make action parts.

When you add the process of including long carbon fibers correctly oriented within the parts, it becomes much more expensive.

The cost of producing the simple ABS parts without carbon fiber, including the mold making spread out over the life of the molds and and the cost of the raw materials, works out to be slightly higher than wood parts. But there is some cost savings realized when assembling and regulating the actions, because the consistency and precision of the actions does make them easier to finish off.

And since it gives a benefit to the consumer of more stable action with parts that do not come loose as readily in changeable climates, then the added cost of producing them is worthwile.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/11/11 02:08 AM

Quote:
After all, this is a very small industry, and people will remember what you say and do, especially if it involves unfounded negativity.


To me, this was an unnessesary comment.

People here should be free to express their opinions on anything piano, good or bad. As long as done in good faith to "to best of one's knowledge" it's inappropriate to utter veiled threats against somebody.

Everybody can offer a counter argument, it's what our discussions here are all about. We all are here to learn and weigh the pros and cons of any subjects under discussion.

It's not just reserved for the Klaus Fenners, Dels or Lothar Thommas of this world.

With all due respect to its author, but above statement did not read "right" to me.

Intimidation by bigger or more experienced guys [presumably..] is not the way to go.

Let's listen to what everybody has to say.

I do.

Norbert thumb
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/11/11 04:03 AM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
After all, this is a very small industry, and people will remember what you say and do, especially if it involves unfounded negativity.


To me, this was an unnessesary comment.

People here should be free to express their opinions on anything piano, good or bad. As long as done in good faith to "to best of one's knowledge" it's inappropriate to utter veiled threats against somebody.

Everybody can offer a counter argument, it's what our discussions here are all about. We all are here to learn and weigh the pros and cons of any subjects under discussion.

It's not just reserved for the Klaus Fenners, Dels or Lothar Thommas of this world.

With all due respect to its author, but above statement did not read "right" to me.

Intimidation by bigger or more experienced guys [presumably..] is not the way to go.

Let's listen to what everybody has to say.

I do.

Norbert thumb


I agree! Thanks, Norbert! smile
Posted by: Steve Jackson

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/11/11 07:46 AM

Originally Posted By: KawaiDon
Originally Posted By: Roy123
One possible advantage of composite actions that hasn't been mentioned is the potential for a lower cost. Wooden action parts are machined, and composite parts are molded. . . . . . It is interesting to note that molded plastic is extensively used in most very low cost consumer items.


Roy,

This is a very common misconception. It is true that it is possible to have cheap products molded cheaply. But when you are working with the precision required to make a piano action, and the stiffness and mass properties must be very accurately controlled, it is rather expensive to make action parts.

When you add the process of including long carbon fibers correctly oriented within the parts, it becomes much more expensive.

The cost of producing the simple ABS parts without carbon fiber, including the mold making spread out over the life of the molds and and the cost of the raw materials, works out to be slightly higher than wood parts. But there is some cost savings realized when assembling and regulating the actions, because the consistency and precision of the actions does make them easier to finish off.

And since it gives a benefit to the consumer of more stable action with parts that do not come loose as readily in changeable climates, then the added cost of producing them is worthwile.


Hi Don:

I'm not sure if this is true. It's like comparing the costs of MDF to wood. MDF costs more per board foot over raw lumber, but the costs of storing the lumber for aging, drying, milling, machining ends up costing considerably more. With MDF, you can have just-in-time materials. Same would be with wood actions and composites. If all processes are included in costs, not just materials, I believe wood costs more, considerably more. There's a reason WNG parts are cheaper then the competitors. I'm sure they're not losing money on them.

just my opinion

Take care,

Steve
Posted by: turandot

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/11/11 01:22 PM

Originally Posted By: KawaiDon
This is a very common misconception. It is true that it is possible to have cheap products molded cheaply. But when you are working with the precision required to make a piano action, and the stiffness and mass properties must be very accurately controlled, it is rather expensive to make action parts.

When you add the process of including long carbon fibers correctly oriented within the parts, it becomes much more expensive.

The cost of producing the simple ABS parts without carbon fiber, including the mold making spread out over the life of the molds and and the cost of the raw materials, works out to be slightly higher than wood parts. But there is some cost savings realized when assembling and regulating the actions, because the consistency and precision of the actions does make them easier to finish off.

And since it gives a benefit to the consumer of more stable action with parts that do not come loose as readily in changeable climates, then the added cost of producing them is worthwile.


Originally Posted By: Steve Jackson
Hi Don:

I'm not sure if this is true. It's like comparing the costs of MDF to wood. MDF costs more per board foot over raw lumber, but the costs of storing the lumber for aging, drying, milling, machining ends up costing considerably more. With MDF, you can have just-in-time materials. Same would be with wood actions and composites. If all processes are included in costs, not just materials, I believe wood costs more, considerably more. There's a reason WNG parts are cheaper then the competitors. I'm sure they're not losing money on them.


In pricing WNG action parts for after-market installation, the maker will be dealing with a knowledgeable customer who is able to evaluate strength, weight, mass, uniformity, etc. and take advantage of the versatility of the product in overcoming problems encountered in replacing certain older actions. The customer will also have a sensitivity to price in that he is not the end user, but is himself in business to make a profit. The customer will also be acutely aware of any shortcomings in the weight, strength, uniformity, and versatility of parts supplied by the traditional makers of wood action parts, shortcomings that may result in his need to reject certain parts supplied to him. IOW, the customer is well-informed and knowledgeable. He will be in a good position to judge the cost/value ratio of the parts available from all sources. Since the market for his composite product is relatively small, the maker will be in a good position to get feedback from his customers about all aspects of the product, price included, and adapt to the needs of his market.

Kawai is selling completed pianos through to end-users, in theorr to players. Few players have the technical sophistication of piano technicians and rebuilders. For almost all players, it's a question of intuitive feel, of how the total product in which action parts are incorporated performs as a total product. Since Kawai's feedback on customer response will be for the most part collected from its retailer network, the feedback will not be as precise as the feedback that WNG will receive from its more sophisticated audience. The retailer may report that consumers are resistant or receptive, but will not report that the customers are concerned about action centers or friction among parts (for example).

IMO it would be very poor judgment for Kawai to tout cost savings to the consumer as a marketing strategy for pianos that include Millenium actions. It would play directly to any consumer concern that its basic interest in the choice of materials is cost savings. In a way it's like the laminate board technology. If a maker puts laminate boards in cheaper lines and prices them cheap, then an association becomes fixed in the consumer's mind that the maker is simply offering a cheaper alternative. If a maker brings the technology to the highest state it an achieve and sells at the highest price that the market will bear, it will cultivate a completely different association in the consumer's mind, provided that the pianos perform to expectations. IMO Kawai's approach to integrating its composite actions into its highest product lines has offset the negative selling of its competitors.

The association in the consumer's mind in the case of composite action parts is important because the total product - a piano- is so complex and the performance of its components so inter-related that it is extremely difficult for a player to evaluate components and material choices in isolation. A recreational fisherman will have no problem seeing first-hand the performance improvement of a fiberglass rod over a wooden pole and the further improvement of a carbon fiber rod over the fiberglass rod. The fishing rod is a simple construction with only one basic function. A recreational skier will easily sense under his feet the performance advantage of any composite ski on the market over a traditional wooden ski (if in fact he can find a pair of old wooden ones to make the comparison), A performance cyclist will immediately detect the actual performance improvements that the superior physical properties of a carbon fiber frame deliver to him, even though a bicycle has many components that must function together. Because of these easily demonstrated performance advantages, composite materials in general and carbon fiber in particular are hot stuff in the sporting goods industry, and their usage fetches higher prices. No one's complaining that it's simply not fair because the engineering results in a cost savings. The focus is on performance and the performance advantages are clear.

In pianos, it's not that easy. In the simple example of weight translated to key resistance, one player may judge a certain piano's action to be light while another player judges the same action as just right and a third player judges it too heavy. If the action is inconsistent, sluggish, or unresponsive, the recreational player, or even the professional player will not be in a position of say that the fault arises from the presence of composite material in the action parts. If he does make that judgment, it's because he has become conditioned to the ultra-conservative way that pianos have been marketed, and a big part of that conditioning is the pricing of the products. It's no different from a player saying, "this piano is lousy because it doesn't have a solid spruce board." The statement is unfortunate but the piano industry can blame itself. It is reaping what it has sown.

So, to get to the point (if there is one grin), if Kawai makes more money as a result of its choice on action construction, then more power to them, especially if they use part of the revenues for further R&D. A number of piano makers who have remained unfailingly true to their building tradition have bitten the dust outright in the last few years, or been scavenged by consumer-grade piano makers who want to exploit their names. These makers might be mourned and remembered for a glorious past, but they're still dead.

Posted by: Steve Jackson

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 08/11/11 03:39 PM


Hey Tur:

What a well articulated summary. I do agree, and I am sure it would not be good to talk about something costing less. Most new "improvements" from the big companies is just spin on a cost saving procedure. I would rather Kawai spent more money on their rims, like they do, and if there are savings that can actually improve the piano elsewhere to fund it, all the better.

The reality is the Steinway patent on the bent rim was a huge cost savings. So much so, no one could compete. The fact that it made a more powerful piano with better dynamics made it the industry standard.

Cost savings, such as seen by many manufacturers in the 70's and 80's, meant to extract maximum profit from minimum effort left most in the industry a footnote in the history books.

Take care,

Steve
Posted by: hootowl

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 02/24/13 09:47 AM

I can tell you this, my Wife wanted a piano with "light" action. I did a lot of research and determined the newer pianos had similar weighting. I bought our RX-2 the other day. She never played one (Kawai) before.

So far she has made no comments about it being heavy or sluggish. She loves her new piano.
Posted by: RX2Bunny

Re: WNG action vs. Kawai Millenium action - 02/24/13 10:30 PM

Touch, tone and feel are all subjective and personal opinion.