Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks?

Posted by: Airspeed

Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 09:57 AM

Hi,

I am going to bite the bullet and reshank our 1970 Yamaha C7. I've got a couple of sample Tokiwa shanks, and they fit nicely, but if I got the entire set I'd have to re-pin every one of them to get exactly 3 grams on the center pin. I hear on WN&G shanks don't need you to do this. I am happy with the current hammers and plan to keep them for now.

I am intrigued by the carbon fiber concept on the shanks. Though I am a geek I am not an early adopter - I always buy the latest & greatest after it has been around long enough for the worst bugs to come out and be fixed.

So far I have gotten two inputs from people I trust, one of them a poster here and on Pianostreet.com. The two opinions can be summarized as "I am not really interested in carbon fiber, but the real leader in this technology is Kawai", and "the top manufacturers, like Renner, are sticking to wood". Another opinion I got from a senior experienced rebuilder is "I've switched and never looked back, there is no question that carbon fiber is superior" (Note: He also sells them).

The question is if there is something to the traditional view on wood, or if carbon fiber is actually a superior material for shanks. The argument on their stiffness seems appealing to me.

I have contacted Mason & Hamlin to find a local dealership here in the Washington, D.C. area so I could try an instrument with the carbon shanks. I have not gotten a reply yet...

I herewith open (or better - re-open) the discussion... wink
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 10:08 AM

W,N&G carbon shanks have a smaller diameter than wood ones. This will not allow you to use the present hammers as a loose fit like that is not sustainable over time.
I have used several sets of the carbon shanks-they are superior in the touch, tone, and stability issues.
Posted by: Tim Sullivan

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 10:29 AM

I've never heard of anyone replacing shanks and flanges without replacing hammers as well. The labour involved in re-using the hammers is almost as much as a new set. 43 year old Yamaha hammers are not worth keeping. As for the choice between wood or carbon, I would go with the WNG, though the Tokiwa parts are perfectly suitable. Your tech may have a preference. Good luck.
Tim
Posted by: Del

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 11:39 AM

Originally Posted By: Airspeed
I am going to bite the bullet and reshank our 1970 Yamaha C7. I've got a couple of sample Tokiwa shanks, and they fit nicely, but if I got the entire set I'd have to re-pin every one of them to get exactly 3 grams on the center pin. I hear on WN&G shanks don't need you to do this. I am happy with the current hammers and plan to keep them for now.

I am intrigued by the carbon fiber concept on the shanks. Though I am a geek I am not an early adopter - I always buy the latest & greatest after it has been around long enough for the worst bugs to come out and be fixed.

You can use your current hammers but it’s not recommended. You will have to shear the original hammershank (leaving the original hammershank wood in the hole as a plug) and redrill for the smaller size of the carbon fiber tube. Not an easy task unless you’re equipped with some kind of hammershank drilling jig designed for the purpose.

Generally both are replaced at the same time and the new hammers are bored to suit.



Quote:
So far I have gotten two inputs from people I trust, one of them a poster here and on Pianostreet.com. The two opinions can be summarized as "I am not really interested in carbon fiber, but the real leader in this technology is Kawai", and "the top manufacturers, like Renner, are sticking to wood". Another opinion I got from a senior experienced rebuilder is "I've switched and never looked back, there is no question that carbon fiber is superior" (Note: He also sells them).

“Top manufacturers, like Renner, are sticking to wood” because they have decades of experience with wood action components and millions of dollars of investment in the machinery, tooling and technology needed to build them.

“Plastic” piano action parts got a bad name when they were first introduced using very unstable materials. Similar materials were used in automobiles and a myriad of other consumer products. I can recall seeing advertisements for and automobile—Chevy, I think—that used a “genuine plastic” steering wheel. Those steering wheels cracked just like those action parts did. Today, though, we would laugh at a Ford salesman trying to belittle a Chevy because it used a “plastic” something-or-other. Yet it is still the perception of some marketing and salespeople that they can convincingly belittle the use of plastic parts in a competitor’s product.

Kawai led the pack on this. Thankfully they have resisted the (mostly) untrue criticism of their “plastic” action for more than forty years and now when a competitive salesperson tries to disparage them it usually comes off as a sad joke on the salesperson.

I don’t know of any piano manufacturers other than M&H using the Wessel, Nickel & Gross action in regular production as yet but I know some are working with samples. It is available as an upscale option on Steingraeber pianos and I fully expect several others will be making them at least optional in the near future.

Many technicians—including myself—have worked with them enough to become comfortable with them. They are now my action components of choice.



Quote:
The question is if there is something to the traditional view on wood, or if carbon fiber is actually a superior material for shanks. The argument on their stiffness seems appealing to me.

I have contacted Mason & Hamlin to find a local dealership here in the Washington, D.C. area so I could try an instrument with the carbon shanks. I have not gotten a reply yet....

There are many differing views on these parts and materials. Rather than repeat them all here yet again, I’d suggest you do a search of the archives and read what has already been written on the subject. There should be quite a lot of material there. You might also do the same on the Technicians Forum.

You won’t find “dealers” for these parts; you’ll find technicians who use them and include them in the work that they do. We all purchase them directly from Wessel, Nickel & Gross.

ddf
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 12:14 PM

They are also available from Brooks Limited.

The shank shearing and re-drilling makes for less uniform drilling results. The bit will wander more because of the differing grain angle between the plug and the moulding.

This is not a job for a DIY or novice unless you just enjoy down time for your piano.

Replacing the stock Yamaha hammer with a softer, lighter type like Ronsen makes would be an upgrade if installed by a skilled tone-regulator.
Posted by: bhammatt

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 12:22 PM

I contacted Mason & Hamlin a few times in the fall......still haven't heard back from them. If you are looking to see these "in action" you may try contacting Nina Butler at Wessell Nickel & Gross directly. She is exceptionally helpful and was able to direct me to a showroom with new M&H pianos in stock with the new synthetic actions and carbon fiber shanks.
Posted by: Del

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 12:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
The shank shearing and re-drilling makes for less uniform drilling results. The bit will wander more because of the differing grain angle between the plug and the moulding.

I didn't say it was the recommended procedure but it can be done in a workmanlike way. Using the correct style of drill bit and a good drilling jig will keep the holes centered.

The first time I saw this done was on a set of hammers on a new Steinway B that had come directly from the factory drilled that way. The original set of holes were too low; they had been redrilled, installed and shipped.

ddf
Posted by: Airspeed

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 12:55 PM

Originally Posted By: bhammatt
I contacted Mason & Hamlin a few times in the fall......still haven't heard back from them. If you are looking to see these "in action" you may try contacting Nina Butler at Wessell Nickel & Gross directly. She is exceptionally helpful and was able to direct me to a showroom with new M&H pianos in stock with the new synthetic actions and carbon fiber shanks.


Thanks - this is very helpful, I will follow up on this suggestion. It seems the consensus here is in favor of the WN&G shanks, but for obvious reasons with new hammers. Now I have to decide which ones, and if to order pre-bored to WN&G diameter, or do it myself (I have a jig).

For those of you concerned about DIY messing with piano: I have worked on my own uprights and grands since I was a teenager. I have replaced broken shanks before, replaced broken strings, glued hammers, & so on. As mentioned above, I have a boring jig. Recently I acquired a junk action and taught myself pins & bushings. I am also enrolled in a tuning/technicians course, but it is more of a remote study setup. Though I'd love to take an exam some day for the heck of it (& to prove that I can), I make my living in another field altogether. I don't do this kind of work to save money - I do it because I enjoy understanding and working on the things I love.

Posted by: CHAS

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 04:10 PM

Had a Kawai with carbon fiber. Loved the action.
Sold that.
Tried $$$$ Euro pianos.
The WNG action was a major factor in my Mason & Hamlin purchase. The Euro pianos seemed to have a lag compared to the M&H.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 05:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Airspeed


Thanks - this is very helpful, I will follow up on this suggestion. It seems the consensus here is in favor of the WN&G shanks, but for obvious reasons with new hammers. Now I have to decide which ones, and if to order pre-bored to WN&G diameter, or do it myself (I have a jig).


Keep in mind, hammers need more than boring. You will have to taper the sides (to remove excess weight and allow clearance), which requires a table saw and tapering jig, and you will have to arc the tails using a jig and belt or disk sander. Depending on the hammer mass, you will have to cove the inside of the molding as well. If you are not prepared to do this, you will have to order this work already done. A word of caution on hammers... WNG shanks are significantly more rigid than wood, and in my experience, using hard and massive hammers with these shanks will make the piano sound bad in the treble section. I would use 16lb Ronsen hammers with Weickert or AA felt.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 05:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Airspeed
Originally Posted By: bhammatt
I contacted Mason & Hamlin a few times in the fall......still haven't heard back from them. If you are looking to see these "in action" you may try contacting Nina Butler at Wessell Nickel & Gross directly. She is exceptionally helpful and was able to direct me to a showroom with new M&H pianos in stock with the new synthetic actions and carbon fiber shanks.


Thanks - this is very helpful, I will follow up on this suggestion. It seems the consensus here is in favor of the WN&G shanks, but for obvious reasons with new hammers. Now I have to decide which ones, and if to order pre-bored to WN&G diameter, or do it myself (I have a jig).

For those of you concerned about DIY messing with piano: I have worked on my own uprights and grands since I was a teenager. I have replaced broken shanks before, replaced broken strings, glued hammers, & so on. As mentioned above, I have a boring jig. Recently I acquired a junk action and taught myself pins & bushings. I am also enrolled in a tuning/technicians course, but it is more of a remote study setup. Though I'd love to take an exam some day for the heck of it (& to prove that I can), I make my living in another field altogether. I don't do this kind of work to save money - I do it because I enjoy understanding and working on the things I love.


We help the DIY piano crowd. We can provide you with the appropriate WN&G shanks -- either naked or with hammers pre-hung. PM me if this seems useful for you to explore. Another forum member is approaching completion of his action rebuild using WN&G shanks/flanges with Isaac pre-hung pre-voiced hammers.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/07/13 10:40 PM




The first time I saw this done was on a set of hammers on a new Steinway B that had come directly from the factory drilled that way. The original set of holes were too low; they had been redrilled, installed and shipped.

ddf [/quote]

In the OP's piano it seems the hammers are original so the bore location is not in error. It is when you plug and re-drill in the same location that the grain interferes.

The further post from the OP show he is not a neophyte at piano technology. I wish him well on his work and progress to become a more skilled and experienced Tech!
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 07:05 AM

Airspeed,

Since you are in the DC area, you might inquire at Jordan Kitts and see if they still have a C series Yamaha that has new WNG parts. This is not a new piano but one they upgraded and have/had for resale.

Good luck,
Posted by: woodog

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 07:35 AM

Hello Airspeed!

I'm one of Keith Akins's (Kpembrook) customers, but in no way am I prompted for the glowing report I'll give him here.

He sold me WNG shanks and flanges and Isaac Cadenza Hammers for my 1954 Baldwin L.

I replaced the materials myself, but Keith hung the hammers to the shanks.

Other than having a keen mechanical sense and a childhood curiosity with our family piano (much worry for my mother!) I had never done a complex and detailed job like this before. The WNG materials are a dream to work with and the results have been fantastic!

For me it was a difficult but very satisfying process, and now I have an intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny of my instrument.

Even if you don't use Keith as a supplier, I urge you to at least talk with him.

all best on the journey!

Forrest Halford
Posted by: Airspeed

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 10:09 AM

Thank you all for this outpouring of support!

The decision is obvious: I'll have to get the hammers pre-bored and shaped, maybe even already hung.

I have also contacted Jordan Kitts - their name was also given to me by Nina Butler. This is funny - the current owner is a former high school classmate of mine.

In terms of hammers, I see the recommendation for 16lb Rosen hammers. What about Abel? This will be the next decision.

Also, I will contact persons recommended to me here on this thread about having the hammer work done.

Thanks again!
Posted by: ando

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 02:30 PM

I hope you don't mind if I ask a little side question here, Aispeed.

When substituting these carbon fiber shanks and lighter hammers, does there need to be a corresponding alteration anywhere else in the action to keep things in balance? I'm thinking the keys, specifically. Do they need some weights to be removed to maintain optimal balance in the system? What is the procedure for working this out? And what would happen if this wasn't done, or wasn't done correctly?
Posted by: jim ialeggio

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 04:35 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
When substituting these carbon fiber shanks and lighter hammers, does there need to be a corresponding alteration anywhere else in the action to keep things in balance?

A qualified yes, because balance is a relative term. If Airspeed was happy with the touch previously, and wanted it to feel identical or nearly identical to how it feels currently, changing hammer mass, depending on how much the total strike weight is changed, would alter the inertia of the action. You would be changing the dynamic feel of the instrument in play.

This, for many reasons is not in itself a bad thing, as many clients when offered a little less resistance in play, decide they like the change. If he really wants to maintain the inertia he presently has, assuming the hammer weights are not changed grossly, there are other modifications that can be made, either in the geometry, or actually inserting lead into the hammer molding.

The changed strike weight, more resilient hammers, shanks of consistent stiffness, and shanks which shimmy less at impact will also effect the tone. With a Yamaha, this could be an improvement ,or, depending on Airspeed's tastes, not.

Just be aware of the possibilities and opportunities beforehand.

I think its a good move, but be prepared to tweak.

Jim Ialeggio
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 04:36 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
I hope you don't mind if I ask a little side question here, Aispeed.

When substituting these carbon fiber shanks and lighter hammers, does there need to be a corresponding alteration anywhere else in the action to keep things in balance? I'm thinking the keys, specifically. Do they need some weights to be removed to maintain optimal balance in the system? What is the procedure for working this out? And what would happen if this wasn't done, or wasn't done correctly?


Greetings,
The shanks don't change the weight of the action, per se. You can select a wide variety of knuckle distances, but the parts themselves don't change any of the action weights. Lighter hammers, yes, that will change the feel a lot.
The big benefit of the WNG parts is the pinning can be set very light and still maintain control that exceeds what is available from cloth, and these parts are not going to warp and twist after you have regulated them. They are more consistent than wooden parts will ever dream of, and they seem to stay that way.
Regards,
Posted by: Airspeed

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 04:52 PM

Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio
[quote=ando]If Airspeed was happy with the touch previously, and wanted it to feel identical or nearly identical to how it feels currently, changing hammer mass, depending on how much the total strike weight is changed, would alter the inertia of the action. You would be changing the dynamic feel of the instrument in play.

This, for many reasons is not in itself a bad thing, as many clients when offered a little less resistance in play, decide they like the change.


Let me fill in some details of what is going on: When I bought the piano, it was a bit heavy. The vendor told me to play it an see what happens - it has been completely rebuilt except for the action (Key bushings are new, damper mechanism redone, including pins and bushings, hammers though reshaped only, dhanks, bushings & pins original). It had been lubricated at the knuckles.

Instead of the piano losing up it got worse, and then the middle C would not come back up. That's when I discovered I had 1.5 swings on many of the hammers. So about half I was able to loosen up with technicians lube and get them somewhat back into spec (about 7 swings). The rest I repinned. Now the ones I did not repin are acting up again. And I still have not touched the knuckles, though I replaced one shank and could feel an immediate improvement with the new knuckle.

Then the reshanking started to make more sense. Instead of messing with the remaining pins, and then still having to worry about the knuckles, why not do it right and do the whole shebang?

So I WOULD like to action to be a bit lighter, even on the ones that are working right now. My previous piano was a 1986 Bosendorfer 200.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/08/13 08:55 PM

If you like the Bosendorfer touch, the carbon shank can help you get there. Bose's have very few leads in the keys and the hammers are narrower than Yamaha. This reduces weight. Bose's have lower inertia in their action than most pianos.

Narrower hammers are easily accommodated by the narrower carbon shanks.
Ronsen can easily make you a set of slightly narrower hammers with the light maple moldings. I would not play around with the leverage beyond getting a set of shanks with 9 or 9.5mm dia. knuckles, this keeps it simple. Reduce the key leading to a max of 2 front leads (Yamaha use larger dia. leads than most), in the bass tapering to no front leads around F above middle C. Taper the hammer sides and shape the shoulder felt after they are glued, until the static touch weight drops to the low 60's at note 1 slowly tapering to low 50's at 88. The top octave or so will likely need lead at the back side of the key.

This "action" plan will also bring the tone up to a generally very good level for a 14 to 16lb Ronsen hammer. Some 8 to 1, (acetone to clear lacquer) at the top octave will be needed.

Good luck!
Posted by: Airspeed

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 07:30 AM

Ed, thanks for this.

What is interesting about all this is that I am more concerned about touch than tone. The reason I originally thought of keeping the old hammers was because I am really quite happy with the sound & tone of this particular C7. I've played a bunch of others, and none had quite the power and singing ability of this one. Actually an impressive instrument, and I am a tough critic.

But the touch needs work at this point...
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 10:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Airspeed

But the touch needs work at this point...


I'm all for WNG parts, but if you are trying to solve touch issues, I think this is an inappropriate, or at least unnecessarily complicated way of trying to solve it, especially if you like the way the piano currently sounds. More likely than not, the wood shanks on your piano are perfectly usable. Lubing action centers is notoriously unreliable way of solving friction issues.... you should have replaced all the center pins from the get go, and maybe even re-bushed them.

I like Eds suggestion of changing the knuckle diameter. You could do this to the original shanks, and it'd be a 2 for 1 deal since they could probably stand being replaced anyway.

Followed by a thorough friction treatment and regulation, I bet your piano would see a tremendous improvement.... for a fraction of the cost of new shanks/hammers. I mean, seriously, the parts alone for new shanks and hammers would cost you somewhere in the $800-$900 range, or more, if you get them pre hung. Kind of a waste unless you want to get the WNG just for the sake of having WNG parts... I'm doubtful that this, by itself, will solve your problem. If you are determined to go through with this, you can get 16lb Ronsen Weickert hammers from Dale Erwin pre bored, etc; that is who I use.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 11:10 AM

I am reminded of one of the CFIIIses that I had to tune for a pianist I consider as one of the technically best in the world. The touch of this piano had been altered by adding paper clips to the shanks, which had bothered me. The pianist complained, so I had half an hour before the house opened to move all of these paper clips. I did not want to remove them, because I was concerned that the spring tension would be wrong, and besides, it was not my piano.

There are any number of problems in a piano that can be fixed just by standard methods, and can be made worse by complicated methods.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 11:20 AM

I am with BDB on the paper clips to increase touch resistance. It is not that much more work to remove a key-lead, (if you have the proper tools) and then the rep springs stay where they are, the action controls at soft playing is better, the key return is quicker, and fortissimo playing is less tiring. Inertia is a bitch!
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 11:23 AM

Oh I forgot to add to my post about W,N&G changeout that the treble will sustain and project even more with the lighter hammers and even better-the regulation and stability of tone quality will be ever so much improved.
Posted by: Airspeed

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 12:52 PM

Original knuckles are 9.78 mm (I guess that really means 9.75). This was my original course of action - just replace the knuckles first. Maybe I should just do that, and re-pin the other shanks I have not pinned yet. This does not seem like a very expensive approach, and if I still don't like the results, then I could think about other steps?

Why would smaller knuckles make a difference?

Again, my other thought was just swapping out the shanks with Tokiwas, keeping the old hammers. That also seem actually pretty straightforward to me. I would then get the original knuckle size, though. A full set of shanks runs around $500.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 01:03 PM

Smaller knuckles means less "bump" at escapement. New knuckles means more even friction.
Your latest plan sounds like a good approach for starters. You can glue the new knuckles in like gluing hammers except have the top action upside down on bench and line up new knuckles with straight edge as you dry-fit each one before gluing. You can avoid bumping recently glued ones by alternating installation from center to end to opposite end of the action.
To remove old knuckles I use my small band saw to cut the core nearly flush with shank and then band saw down center of core stopping just before bottom of slot. Use utility knife to remove remaining core and the slot will look just like new.
Posted by: jim ialeggio

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 01:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I am with BDB on the paper clips to increase touch resistance. It is not that much more work to remove a key-lead, (if you have the proper tools) and then the rep springs stay where they are, the action controls at soft playing is better, the key return is quicker, and fortissimo playing is less tiring. Inertia is a bitch!

Yeah...except that the techs who take the advice to add the clips to the shanks are looking for an increase in Strike weight for tonal reasons...mostly. This is part of the "heavy hammers are required for good tone" approach...an approach that I disagree with wholeheartedly. It is an approach which is only just recently beginning to feel a push back back from the larger tech community...as in...there are many ways to shape the tone of a piano.

Adding Strikeweight may have a place in some very large venues and for some pianists on the top of the pile, but my experience has been that these pianists are muscular outliers. The instruments they play and the large venues they play in have singular tonal requirements that 99% of the rest of fine pianists will suffer under.

Jim Ialeggio

Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 02:37 PM

Hello Airspeed,

We are currently working on a Yamaha C7 from a similar vintage to yours. We are using some WNG parts in it, but based on the clients goals and our experience, we have chosen to use wooden shanks.
As an aside, for those that think the WNG shanks don't change the touch, I suggest you weigh them and compare that weight with wooden shanks. You might be surprised. We were.

I invite you to call me to make an appointment to try the C7 we are working on, as I think it will give you important information that you don't currently have.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 03:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman


As an aside, for those that think the WNG shanks don't change the touch, I suggest you weigh them and compare that weight with wooden shanks. You might be surprised. We were.


Greetings,
I don't know about that. The actual weight of the shank on the scale indicates the WNG shanks weigh more, but the distribution is such that the SW is little changed, since the heaviest part of the shank is farthest away from the hammer.
I think this is an easily recovered few tenths of a gram and a small price to pay for the evenness the carbon fiber makes and the stability it produces. For that amount of control, felt bushings would be pinned at four to five times as tight, so changes of touch of such small amounts can be afforded in the overall picture. Getting solid directional stability with only 2 grams pinning resistance opens up a fair allowance for the extra weight. Replace the capstans with the WNG anodized ones and you will be well ahead.
Also, I am noticing what seem to be much more defined string grooves in the hammers of the WNG actions I have put in the practice rooms. It follows if the bushings are so definite that the impact will be, too.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 04:02 PM

Originally Posted By: jim ialeggio
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I am with BDB on the paper clips to increase touch resistance. It is not that much more work to remove a key-lead, (if you have the proper tools) and then the rep springs stay where they are, the action controls at soft playing is better, the key return is quicker, and fortissimo playing is less tiring. Inertia is a bitch!

Yeah...except that the techs who take the advice to add the clips to the shanks are looking for an increase in Strike weight for tonal reasons...mostly. This is part of the "heavy hammers are required for good tone" approach...an approach that I disagree with wholeheartedly. It is an approach which is only just recently beginning to feel a push back back from the larger tech community...as in...there are many ways to shape the tone of a piano.


Greetings,
I never liked the big hammers, either. Best action I ever played had little hammers and a high ratio. Lotta snap in that one. The direction of the last few decades, which have seen wholesale moves towards the big hammers in little pianos is nuts, imho.
However, I just finished putting the Staples "micro" size spring clips on a Steinway M. These weigh .6 grams each, and the action DW went up by 2 1/2 grams. The Renner Blues have a SW in the high medium range, and DW at #40 was already 50 grams. The professor who was getting the piano played it and asked me to up it some. The keyboard, (which was already finely weighed off to + or - 1 gram from key to key), didn't need me removing leads, and I wanted something easily reversible. This was also a way to do this without altering the consistency, so it had a lot of things going for it.
She played it again and absolutely loved it, mentioning that she was going to ask me to voice it down before, but now it sounded and felt perfect. There will always be a market for a wide range of piano response, a wide range of SW, and being able, via the use of the clips, to shift gears so fundamentally in 30 minutes is a valuable approach for any tech.
Regards,
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 04:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman


As an aside, for those that think the WNG shanks don't change the touch, I suggest you weigh them and compare that weight with wooden shanks. You might be surprised. We were.


Greetings,
The actual weight of the shank on the scale indicates the WNG shanks weigh more, but the distribution is such that the SW is little changed, since the heaviest part of the shank is farthest away from the hammer.
I think this is an easily recovered few tenths of a gram and a small price to pay for the evenness the carbon fiber makes and the stability it produces. For that amount of control, felt bushings would be pinned at four to five times as tight, so changes of touch of such small amounts can be afforded in the overall picture. Getting solid directional stability with only 2 grams pinning resistance opens up a fair allowance for the extra weight. Replace the capstans with the WNG anodized ones and you will be well ahead.
Also, I am noticing what seem to be much more defined string grooves in the hammers of the WNG actions I have put in the practice rooms. It follows if the bushings are so definite that the impact will be, too.


We were surprised that the WNG shanks were heavier. Before we checked, we assumed they would be lighter since the other WNG parts are lighter than standard ( such as the capstans you mention or the whipps ).
Some wooden shanks are lighter than others, so the difference can be larger. And, one can further lighten wooden shanks should they choose.
This is not a make or break issue for carbon fiber shanks vs wooden shanks. The carbon fibre shanks change the sound and feel in a way that not everyone likes.
In an institutional setting, the carbon fiber flange is more important than for home usage, and it is understandable, especially in an institution that choices between performance and maintenance have to be considered carefully.
Posted by: Airspeed

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 07:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

To remove old knuckles I use my small band saw to cut the core nearly flush with shank and then band saw down center of core stopping just before bottom of slot. Use utility knife to remove remaining core and the slot will look just like new.


I swapped out one of the shanks with a new one, and on the old shank I tried a pair of giant sized end-nippers that are sold by some vendor as a "knuckle removal tool". At first I heard a crack, and all that was was the glue - the knuckle came right out. This was also recommended to me by a tech here, and is a technique shown on YouTube.

Whose knuckles, I ask? Renner is willing to sell me a set for $200, International piano Supply has some of most likely questionable origin for $90, vandaking.com (aka Pianoshowcase, seems to be mostly Schaff they are selling) has Tokiwas for about the same price as Renner. If I swap out the shanks with Tokiwas, I get standard sized knuckle with a new shank, if I want smaller knuckles, it would make more sense to keep the old shanks.

(I hope I am not sounding too knuckleheaded... smile )
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 08:08 PM

I don't like the few times using the end cutters to remove knuckles results in a split shank. My esthetic sensibilities are offended by spot replacement of parts into a consistent original set of parts. And some pianos that are getting knuckle replacement are ones that no shank available today will at all match the originals. So I use the band saw and razor knife.

Adding the shank weight "dulls" the tone slightly because the added inertia is increasing the hammer contact time. Their use may be useful and appropriate for some tech's but again it doesn't fit my esthetic standards. It's just the way I roll.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/09/13 08:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Airspeed
Whose knuckles, I ask? Renner is willing to sell me a set for $200, International piano Supply has some of most likely questionable origin for $90, vandaking.com (aka Pianoshowcase, seems to be mostly Schaff they are selling) has Tokiwas for about the same price as Renner. If I swap out the shanks with Tokiwas, I get standard sized knuckle with a new shank, if I want smaller knuckles, it would make more sense to keep the old shanks.


Why would you order anything from Vandaking or Int'l Piano Supply? They mark their wares up quite a bit... Tokiwa knuckles should cost considerably less than Renner. You can get knuckles with a wooden core from WNG and they are half the cost of Renner's.
Posted by: subcontra

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/15/13 10:30 PM

To further this discussion, I want to hear anyone who didn't like or had people who didn't like the new piano actions report what did or did not work to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the composite action, as I cannot find much information pertaining to the hidden caveats detracting from the desired feel of WNG's new action design e.g. material friction, escapement blocking at desired settings, and noise problems beyond what was discussed in this thread.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/15/13 11:12 PM

Originally Posted By: subcontra
To further this discussion, I want to hear anyone who didn't like or had people who didn't like the new piano actions report what did or did not work to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the composite action, as I cannot find much information pertaining to the hidden caveats detracting from the desired feel of WNG's new action design e.g. material friction, escapement blocking at desired settings, and noise problems beyond what was discussed in this thread.


Greetings,
I would like to hear about this, too. The composite actions I have built and placed into professional service are getting rave reviews on sensitivity and response. "escapement blocking at desired settings" is a completely unknown term, so I don't know what that is all about.

I do know that the hard bushings allow a 2 gram friction resistance with orders of magnitude better control of the hammer. And the consistency is so far beyond wood that there is no comparison available.
It is also useless to say the shanks change the sound unless one has tried the same hammer on both. I haven't tried that, but nobody is having any reservations about the sound around here we are getting with them.
Regards,
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/15/13 11:14 PM

I had one rebuilding prospect reject them just because they were not wood. She tried one of my pianos with W,N&G shanks and liked the way it played and sounded but could not bring herself to accept anything but wood. I declined to work for her.

The shank noise is much more consistent from note to note and this helps make the piano sound and feel even. I was reluctant to install a set until I had an opportunity to listen to a piano with them on when it was very quiet and I could focus on the hammer strike sound alone. I did not want to be surprised with a "thwack" that was more unpleasant than wood. I find the carbon "thwack" to be more pleasant that wood but by a barely noticeable difference.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 01:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
I had one rebuilding prospect reject them just because they were not wood. She tried one of my pianos with W,N&G shanks and liked the way it played and sounded but could not bring herself to accept anything but wood. I declined to work for her.


My stance also. I've switched to composite/carbon-fiber and am not looking back. At this stage, I'm not going to expose myself to the extra work and instability associated with wood.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 04:09 PM

Greetings,
Some time ago, I asked for any feedback inre the superiority of wood over the carbon fiber, and not a single response was had. Does anybody care to offer a reason for using the wood and felt-bushed parts, other than that is the way it has always been done? Weight was mentioned, but the weight of the whippen, measured at the capstan, is less with the composite parts, and the SW I have been measuring is within .2 grams of the average wooden shank,(Tokiwa, Renner, Steinway). This .2 grams is less than the variability found within any set of wooden parts. It is hard to compare, though, since the carbon fiber shanks are all the same, and the wooden ones from all the suppliers are erratic...
Regards,
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 04:39 PM

Hey Ed,

The flex in a wooden shank is felt by the pianist and the carbon fiber shank's lack of flex changes the timing for the player which changes the way the player controls sound. This is not insignificant as it has a kind of domino effect. I think it also changes the sound of the piano beyond the weight difference between the carbon fiber shank and the wooden shank, but I would concede that it is possible that the change in sound i hear is only from how the different feel is influencing how I am perceiving sound.

I am not saying one is better than the other, although I do have a personal preference for a wooden shank. It is also possible that a preference for how a wooden shank feels and sounds might be just because the pianist is more used to it.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 05:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman

I am not saying one is better than the other, although I do have a personal preference for a wooden shank. It is also possible that a preference for how a wooden shank feels and sounds might be just because the pianist is more used to it.


Greetings,
The pianists who have played the composite actions have unanimously loved it. Every single one of the faculty that has played these actions, and all of the students remark on how controllable they are. There are other comments, too, as in, how consistent they are as the volume is dialed up and down. The micro timing difference between the two is going to be hard to measure, but I will try.

Citing Askenfelt and Jansson in “Five Lectures on the Acoustics of the Piano”, it appears that on a forte blow, there is only 2 milliseconds between the key hitting the bottom and the hammer hitting the string. This is for a wooden shank.
At a pianissimo blow, the hammer hits the string 12 ms before the key hits the bottom.
My logic suggests that there is the least difference in the flex of the shanks at the ppp blow, so there would be no difference detected between the two materials at soft play.
On the forte blow, the elapsed time between keybottom and string contact is only 2 ms. If the carbon fiber shank decreases this by any amount, it would be an indistinguishable difference.

This is a comparison between key bottom and string contact. There are other comparisons which may give us a slightly different perspective, ie, comparing the timing difference between onset of the key’s movement and string contact. Askenfelt didn’t measure this directly, but if we compare the timing differences using the the onset of movement of the repetition, (which is when the key begins to move minus whatever compliance there is in the key, balance rail punching, capstan felt, and knuckle) and the string contact, we see that there is less than 8 ms difference between the two. If the carbon fiber shank cuts this in half, who can tell?

The authors, in regarding these delays inherent in a wooden action had this to say:

Askenfeldt: “One may wonder if the pianist is aware of this variable "delay" between the onset of the note (the hammer strikes the string) and the response in the finger (the key reaches its bottom position). Probably not, even though the delay can reach an order of magnitude (about 20 ms) that it likely affects playing at an artistic level. Presumably, the "bottom feeling" and a compensation for the delay are unconsciously developed during the years of study.”

Given the overall compliance in the action, removing the flex from just the shank would seem to account for a very small percentage of whatever delay there is, and altering it by half, or less, would be indistinguishable between the two. I would be interested in a measurement of dwell time, in which the hammer is on the string, between the two parts, as that could have more effect on tone than the actual composition of the parts.
Regards,
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 06:49 PM

Everything you wrote makes good sense, but remember, good pianists can be unbelievably sensitive to the tiniest differences in sound and touch that most would not register.

I am confidant that the differences I hear and feel are real. We have tested it, although certainly not in a rigorous scientific manner. Based on your post, I would also say that I am open to the idea that it might be attributed more to "dwell time" then flex. As you pointed out, wooden hammer shanks from different manufacturers weigh different amounts, and I would add flex different amounts. Both of these factors would contribute to "dwell time", and a more flexible and lighter hammer shank when compared with a carbon fiber shank would increase these differences.

We like the WNG parts and will continue to use them when we think they are right for a particular piano and client. This shank issue is one we go back and forth on.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 07:08 PM

I've run into significant percentage of people who, having tried the WNG action, dislike the feel even when the technology appeals to them. When side by side a good quality, traditional wood alternative, reactions I've seen are nearly split. To get a unanimous approval would usually take a situation where what is being replaced was old and bad, giving the new parts double the credit.

I like the technology, but I'm not going spend a lot of time arguing with a pianist who, whether from experience or even from ignorance, doesn't like the result.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 07:31 PM

Mr. Kerman,
Have you ever had the experience where a highly skilled professional pianist has preferred a piano that is significantly worn and mechanically uneven, over one perfectly even and mechanically sound, because the worn one played better? My findings in cases like this are that the more worn and service needing piano has better dynamic range, tone color and projection. The usual reason it has these characteristics is it has a lower inertia in the hammers and keys.

When I play a properly made action with the carbon shank my pianistic senses are thrilled. There is nothing in the playing or listening experience of a carbon shank piano that is negative to cue a pianist or listener in that something is different.

The dwell time of the hammer on the string is almost entirely determined by the inertia of the hammer assembly in relation to the frequency of the string. Rebounding hammer felt or shank elasticities do not contribute to return of the hammer from the string because the spring rate of the decompressing hammer felt and/or the oscillating shank is many times slower than the strings frequency. Except maybe at the bottom few notes-but down there the fundamental is missing.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 08:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT

The dwell time of the hammer on the string is almost entirely determined by the inertia of the hammer assembly in relation to the frequency of the string. Rebounding hammer felt or shank elasticities do not contribute to return of the hammer from the string because the spring rate of the decompressing hammer felt and/or the oscillating shank is many times slower than the strings frequency. Except maybe at the bottom few notes-but down there the fundamental is missing.


Hmm.,
Ok, this is a confusing statement to me. I understand that dwell time is directly correlated to the partials produced, and the the partials determine the voice. A harder hammer, that weighs the same as a softer one, will produce a different spectrum of partials. It makes me think that the dwell time of a hard hammer must be less than a soft one. I don't see how that hardness is related to inertia.
To be extreme, a solid wooden hammer will spend less time on the string than a soft felt one that weighs the same amount, judging by the partials produced.
Regards,
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/16/13 10:50 PM

I don't think the dwell time alone produces the difference in frequency distribution amongst the partials. The difference in the partial structure is a function of the damping level of the felt combined with the hammer assembly's inertia and its relation to the period of the string. Hammers are dampers of a sort. Hardness is not related to inertia unless it also increases the hammers mass.

Think of the hammer assembly and the string as pendulums. When you test the swings on a hammer assembly to evaluate center friction, how slowly it oscillates compared to any piano string at pitch.

Primers on piano acoustics that I have read seldom include a term for hammer inertia in the algebraic expressions they use to define hammer string contact time. Benade's text specifically does not if I remember accurately.

The first tone-regulation class I took was taught by Fred Drasche, Chief Tone-regulater at Steinway NY, at the 1972 or 1973 (going on memory here) PTG convention in Portland OR. The first words out of his mouth were "The hammer has got to get away from the string" and "The voicer puts the tone in the hammer with the shape".

Two hammers with equal inertia striking the same string, with the same force, (at different times), with differing spring rates of felt compression and rebound, will change the partial spectrum carried by the string because of damping differences not dwell. Remember the first reflection comes from the agraffe and must pass through the hammer contact point to reach the bridge. That reflection can be reduced by contact damping.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/17/13 10:28 AM

Quote:
The flex in a wooden shank is felt by the pianist and the carbon fiber shank's lack of flex changes the timing


But this is not an accurate description of the difference between wood and CF shanks. CF do flex. If you read the WN&G site, you will see that, in fact, they flex the same as the more rigid of the wooden shanks.

The problem (or benefit if you think) with wood shanks is not that they flex, but that they flex erratically from one note to the next -- and there is no way to accurately determine what that flex will be in the manufacturing process.

So, the difference between the two is not no flex vs. flex but consistent flex vs. erratically variable flex. That means that whatever your pianist was feeling cannot be explained by flex differences between the two.

I wonder . . .
Was the pianist aware of which was which when he played? Or was it a "blind test" where he declared his preference before it was revealed which was which? If the former, then probably what was being revealed was the pianists subconscious belief in the magical properties of wood.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Tokiwa or Wessell Nickel & Gross shanks? - 02/17/13 11:33 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Quote:
The flex in a wooden shank is felt by the pianist and the carbon fiber shank's lack of flex changes the timing


But this is not an accurate description of the difference between wood and CF shanks. CF do flex. If you read the WN&G site, you will see that, in fact, they flex the same as the more rigid of the wooden shanks.

The problem (or benefit if you think) with wood shanks is not that they flex, but that they flex erratically from one note to the next -- and there is no way to accurately determine what that flex will be in the manufacturing process.

So, the difference between the two is not no flex vs. flex but consistent flex vs. erratically variable flex. That means that whatever your pianist was feeling cannot be explained by flex differences between the two.


yea, what he said.