Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today

Posted by: Loren D

Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/21/10 08:30 PM

Why not? After all, I use an impact lever on verticals, so on the grands I did today, I tried his "tap" method. On grands I've always gone the traditional "pull over and then push to set" routine. It was pretty quick with no fussing over the pin. When the string was where I wanted it, if I couldn't knock it out with a few nice test blows, I just moved on to the next pin. Played it hard for about 15 minutes after I was done (I was at a church) and was still rock solid. He may just have something there. smile
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/21/10 11:35 PM

Thanks a lot. Loren, it is what I have done for over 30 years. Yet, I can say what I do and that it works and why it works but there are still those who have their own preconceived opinion that it wouldn't work, couldn't work and shouldn't be tried. An opinion based on hypothesis is formed, conclusions drawn and then offered as fact or methodology.

If you, as a technician believe that the only way to tune a string is to twist, pull, bend, overshoot, pound, massage, etc., until the string finally stays put and spend a couple of hours trying to get an ordinary piano into tune, then you are entitled to your opinion and have the right to tune however you want.

If, on the other hand, you think there may be an easier and more efficient way, you have the right to explore those possibilities too.
Posted by: meadpiano

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 12:53 AM

Hello, Were can I find this tap method outlined? Mr. Bremmer, I look at your website and I didn't seem to find it. Nice website though! Very clean! I have been tuning pianos for about three years now and I have always wished I had better hammer technique! I assume it requires an impact lever?


Thanks,

Daniel
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 06:46 AM

You're welcome, Bill. Question: where did you get the short ball-handle lever? I had a Wonderwand (remember those?) way back in the early 90's that I picked up at the state guild convention, but that had a long handle. Besides, it ended up breaking. So, I need a new one and would like one with a short handle. I can't find one listed at either Schaff or Pianotek.
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 07:01 AM

Thanks, Daniel! A video showing Bill's technique can be seen at http://www.ptg.org/media/tuning.mov.

It's not just him, but other techs too. But if you watch, he will be about the third or forth tech. He introduces himself and then tunes, and you can see the technique. No, does not require an impact lever; you can use your traditional lever (which I do on grands). I do use an impact lever (CyberHammer) on verticals, though.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 08:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Thanks a lot. Loren, it is what I have done for over 30 years. Yet, I can say what I do and that it works and why it works but there are still those who have their own preconceived opinion that it wouldn't work, couldn't work and shouldn't be tried. An opinion based on hypothesis is formed, conclusions drawn and then offered as fact or methodology.

If you, as a technician believe that the only way to tune a string is to twist, pull, bend, overshoot, pound, massage, etc., until the string finally stays put and spend a couple of hours trying to get an ordinary piano into tune, then you are entitled to your opinion and have the right to tune however you want.

If, on the other hand, you think there may be an easier and more efficient way, you have the right to explore those possibilities too.


Here we go again.

Bill, you are being condescending at best and insulting at worst in proselytizing your favorite techniques. You have done this with choosing a temperament, setting the temperament, stretching octaves, re-gluing ivories, splicing broken strings and now hammer technique.

You act as if you are being attacked for having an opinion when you are the one attacking others because of their opinions.

I find it difficult to take what you say at face value. If you said it was raining, I would look out the window before grabbing an umbrella.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 11:35 AM

I use the nudging technique too, though recently I have tried the smooth pull technique in grands with good results.

What surprises me is that in this video of Bill tuning unisons, he tunes both from below or above pitch, indifferently.

I always go sharp first and then go down to pitch, except with very loose tuning pins where I go from flat directly to pitch.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 12:34 PM

UnrightTooner posted this on another thread, I guess he missed the right thread and it was meant to be here.

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Gadzar:

I also noticed that Bill seemed to come from above or below pitch, but I couldn't be quite sure. Anyway, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was sometimes doing what Cy said (in another Topic) is possible with the impact hammer: rendering the string by springing the pin without actually moving the foot of the pin. If that is done by tapping the hammer, there is not much difference in what is being accomplished as when going slightly above pitch and then setting the pin (and string) without moving the foot of the pin. The question still remains, “How far above pitch?”

Do you understand what I mean?
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner


I am not questioning Bill's tuning stability. I know Bill is a great tuner and he does wonderful tunings.

What I am saying is that he does tune in a way unknown for me to this day.

I have a video of Jim Coleman Sr. where he says that if we put the tuning hammer lever in the 1 to 3 hours position (in a vertical piano) there is less amount to go over pitch prior to set the pins. So, if you have the right technique, you can fall exactly on spot and no setting the pin would be needed and you can come from sharp or flat indifferently. Of course this means the foot of the pin is exactly where it must be.

I guess that is what Bill does in his video of tuning treble octaves. It is a shame the right hand is not visible in this video and we can not see what and how is he doing, though we can hear it.



Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 12:54 PM

Thanks, Gadzar, I did post a reply in the wrong Topic.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 03:38 PM

Hi Loren,

I was so impressed with Bill's tuning hammer, I bought one....and I really like it. I can feel the pin better. You can see it here:

http://www.mothergoosetools.com/tuning_hammers/index.shtml

Even my local tech liked it....said he was able to set the pin faster.
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/22/10 07:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Hi Loren,

I was so impressed with Bill's tuning hammer, I bought one....and I really like it. I can feel the pin better. You can see it here:

http://www.mothergoosetools.com/tuning_hammers/index.shtml

Even my local tech liked it....said he was able to set the pin faster.



Thanks! I went ahead and bought the Schaff one before I saw this, though. Looking forward to using it.
Posted by: Jerry Viviano

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 12/24/10 07:11 PM

Bill,
With your method, are you striving to leave more tension between the agraffe/capo and the pin than the tension of the speaking length of the string? I've heard this preached several times as a way to ensure tuning stability. If you are doing this, what is the technique? I'm not able to discern it from the video.

It might be good to put together a video specifically on your hammer technique and post it on your site, the PTG site, and/or YouTube.
Thank you,
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/21/11 11:22 PM

I am resurrecting this thread since I am increasingly interested in the "tapping" technique. I looked for the video showing Bill Bremmer, and 3 other technicians, but it is not there anymore.

Bill, is that video available somewhere? I saw it a while ago and it was very helpful to watch.
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/21/11 11:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve W
I am resurrecting this thread since I am increasingly interested in the "tapping" technique. I looked for the video showing Bill Bremmer, and 3 other technicians, but it is not there anymore.

Bill, is that video available somewhere? I saw it a while ago and it was very helpful to watch.


You mean

http://www.ptg.org/media/tuning.mov

which has been moved to God knows where since PTG is rearranging their website in a random way. Maybe you can email them about it.

Kees

PS If you search the new PTG website for "tuning.mov" you get not what you're after but something else which is also useful I think.
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 08:31 AM

Good thought about checking with PTG - I emailed them and will report back when I hear from them.

I hope they will make that video accessible again - it was really helpful, and particularly since you get to see 4 different technicians (incl Bill B) in action so you can compare their technique.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 12:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Viviano
Bill,
With your method, are you striving to leave more tension between the agraffe/capo and the pin than the tension of the speaking length of the string? I've heard this preached several times as a way to ensure tuning stability. If you are doing this, what is the technique? I'm not able to discern it from the video.

It might be good to put together a video specifically on your hammer technique and post it on your site, the PTG site, and/or YouTube.
Thank you,


Looks like I never saw or responded to this. I have never heard of such a thing but it would seem to me that if one did that, the tension would eventually equalize and the string would go flat.

What I do know is that raising the pitch of a string with a slow pull will naturally put more tension between the pin and the termination point. That is what often causes a string to break.

To avoid breaking strings when raising the pitch, first put a quick but slight counterclockwise movement on the pin, then gently tap or bump the hammer until the string is up to pitch. Although I often do not have to raise the pitch above where I want it for the string to settle, that is certainly not always true. I seem to know by instinct when I have to raise the pitch of a string beyond where I want it. All one has to do is give a firm test blow. If the string goes flat, it needs to be bumped up again.

The videos that PTG put up on you tube show me tuning a Yamaha vertical which is a very easy piano to tune. It cooperates very well, so little or no effort is needed to "set" a pin. Pianos with tight, squeaky and jumpy pins are another matter. So are pianos where a large change in pitch is required.

In those videos, the piano was de-tuned the way pianos are for the tuning exam. In such a de-tuning, the pins are simply moved alternately sharp and flat but with no effort whatsoever to settle the string or "set" the pin. The piano really wants to go back to where it was more than resist. Those are some reasons why it appears in those videos that I could tune the piano so quickly and easily. I certainly cannot tune all pianos with so little effort.

That being said, however, Bernhard Stopper noted to me how relaxed I seemed during my tuning demonstration at the convention. David Andersen also spoke of how people wit the highest degree of skills are relaxed in their work and do it efficiently and without struggle.

When helping one person prepare for the exam, I noticed how he struggled and fought with each tuning pin, causing it to "snap" sharp, then flat over and over again and never getting the string on pitch. I stepped up to the piano and popped the string into tune with one stroke. He threw up his hands in frustration. I said to him that he could do it too, if he would just relax and stop struggling so hard.

I had him put his hand on the tuning hammer, then I tuned some strings as I would normally. Apparently, he got the idea because after having struggled trying to tune only the temperament octave for an entire hour, he started over and got a very good sounding temperament in only 10 minutes.

He went on to pass his tuning exam with some very impressive scores!

I learned the impact style technique very long ago at the 1979 convention from Jim Coleman, Sr. and George Defebaugh. Many other tuning techniques that I learned at that single class I still use today.

I looked back at what was said in this thread late last year. What George Defebaugh taught and what I accepted as being true and what Jim Coleman, Sr. taught again in his class last week was that an impact type technique is the most mechanically correct way to manipulate a piano string. I saw it demonstrated, I believed it then and I believe it now and have used that kind of technique for over 30 years.

Yet, I was accused of promoting my own methods or something like that and ridiculing the slow pull method. I can only say that I know what works and why it works. I have had the same criticism about the temperament sequence based upon initial contiguous thirds. I know it works and why it works. I have helped dozens of people who struggled and failed quite badly using a traditional cycle of 5ths temperament sequence. They ALL showed great improvement and many went on to pass the tuning exam with exceptionally high scores.

I know why the traditional sequence does not work for many people and have explained why it does not work many times. It may well be true that some technicians successfully tune a piano using a traditional sequence and a slow pull hammer technique. Inevitably, however, these are the people who take far longer to tune a piano than those who use a much more efficient and mechanically correct technique. The temperament sequence is analogous. Compounded and cumulative errors are inevitable with that method and they take much more time and skill to sort out and correct than a sequence that leads one far closer to perfection on the first attempt at tuning each string.

These are not "MY" methods! I did not "invent" the impact style technique nor the contiguous thirds. These methods belong to everyone and are practiced widely. One certainly has the choice and the right to use whichever techniques seem to work best.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 12:28 PM

Bill.

There is nothing wrong with promoting "your method" whatever method that might be. It works. People use it. You have helped a LOT of people over the years and still do to this day. You have helped people to not only pass the exam, but, you help people learn how to tune period, spending countless hours for FREE doing so. Those of us who know you, have also become friends with you, have learned to understand you and appreciate your genuineness along with your ability to teach, to learn and to show others how to do what it is, they cannot do or what it is that they are doing incorrectly like snapping the pin back and forth instead of in tune. While many others seem to sit around, complain and find fault, you would rather go out and help those who are struggling and those who have questions whatever they might be. And, most importantly? When you do help, most of them get it. Without your help, many people might not pass the exam. As you mentioned before, 4 of them did, with your tutoring this past convention.

I just wanted to say, thanks for doing that.

Jer

Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 12:34 PM

Bill:

You never miss an opportunity to bash 4th and 5th tuning and tuners, do you? The Topic is about hammer technique, not temperament sequences.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 07:29 PM

And you never miss an opportunity to bash Bill either do you?
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 07:49 PM



I got a response from the PTG, and here is the new link:

http://www.ptg.org/media/

Looks like Bill's contiguous thirds videos are there as well as the "4 technicians tune unisons" video I was looking for. Enjoy!
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 07:50 PM

OOOPS - spoke too soon -
there is indeed a link to the "4 techs" video but it's a dead link.

I will let the PTG know...
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/22/11 08:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
And you never miss an opportunity to bash Bill either do you?


LOL
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 02:07 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Bill:

You never miss an opportunity to bash 4th and 5th tuning and tuners, do you? The Topic is about hammer technique, not temperament sequences.


This was your early response to this topic:

Quote:
Here we go again.

Bill, you are being condescending at best and insulting at worst in proselytizing your favorite techniques. You have done this with choosing a temperament, setting the temperament, stretching octaves, re-gluing ivories, splicing broken strings and now hammer technique.

You act as if you are being attacked for having an opinion when you are the one attacking others because of their opinions.

I find it difficult to take what you say at face value. If you said it was raining, I would look out the window before grabbing an umbrella.


I still stick with my advice on how to do all of the above that you mentioned. You are welcome to post your own alternatives to each.
Posted by: wayne walker

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 10:01 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Bill:

You never miss an opportunity to bash 4th and 5th tuning and tuners, do you? The Topic is about hammer technique, not temperament sequences.


with comments like yours makes me wonder what you have contribute to the industry. I and many other tuners respect what Bill has done over the years, I guess you don't
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 10:41 AM

Originally Posted By: wayne walker
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Bill:

You never miss an opportunity to bash 4th and 5th tuning and tuners, do you? The Topic is about hammer technique, not temperament sequences.


with comments like yours makes me wonder what you have contribute to the industry. I and many other tuners respect what Bill has done over the years, I guess you don't


He does tend to follow Bill around here, it seems. Like you, Wayne, I respect and appreciate Bill's decades of contribution to the trade. I don't agree with everything he says, but the good part is, I don't have to! I can still recognize the value of what he does and contributes.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 11:30 AM


Loren, the problem is not the content of what is posted but how the prose is structured; always tearing down another to build oneself up is the classic straw man argument. The trouble begins when one denigrates another’s way of working or thinking. This is the main complaint regarding this member’s postings and is the part that offends some of the other members here.

Doesn’t make much difference to me any longer because I am not around here much; the technical aspect of this forum has really fallen away in the past couple of years. There are no longer many threads of any technical importance.
Posted by: Mark Davis

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 02:43 PM

I agree with some of what you have said Bill but not all. I myself have tried out the CM3 method of setting the temperament and do use it with success. However, I do like and use the 4ths and 5ths method and with success too.

I hear and agree with the impact style of tuning and do imploy it on some pianos and it can help with speed but then again I might tune just as fast using the slow pull method too.

With regard to your following statement, "What I do know is that raising the pitch of a string with a slow pull will naturally put more tension between the pin and the termination point. That is what often causes a string to break.".

I understand what you are saying Bill but I do not see or experience what you are saying here. I do not agree that the slow pull method causes string breakage.

I have pitch raised and tuned many pianos with the slow pull method and in all the pianos that I have pitch adjusted and tuned in the last 6 years of my tuning career, apart from 3 years of chipping and pitch raising pianos in a workshop enviroment, I have maybe had 1-2% of the strings snap and even then that maybe due to certain other reasons, not the slow pull method.

I also think that speed and relaxation in tuning come in general from understanding what you are doing and from many years of tuning experience. It is not something one should be boasting about.

The impact style of tuning must be seen as one of the tools in our bag of tools and not the only tool to use in tuning pianos.

Regards,
Posted by: pppat

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 05:12 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Thanks a lot. Loren, it is what I have done for over 30 years. Yet, I can say what I do and that it works and why it works but there are still those who have their own preconceived opinion that it wouldn't work, couldn't work and shouldn't be tried. An opinion based on hypothesis is formed, conclusions drawn and then offered as fact or methodology.

If you, as a technician believe that the only way to tune a string is to twist, pull, bend, overshoot, pound, massage, etc., until the string finally stays put and spend a couple of hours trying to get an ordinary piano into tune, then you are entitled to your opinion and have the right to tune however you want.

If, on the other hand, you think there may be an easier and more efficient way, you have the right to explore those possibilities too.


Here we go again.

Bill, you are being condescending at best and insulting at worst in proselytizing your favorite techniques. You have done this with choosing a temperament, setting the temperament, stretching octaves, re-gluing ivories, splicing broken strings and now hammer technique.

You act as if you are being attacked for having an opinion when you are the one attacking others because of their opinions.

I find it difficult to take what you say at face value. If you said it was raining, I would look out the window before grabbing an umbrella.


Jeff,

I see no intended offense in Bill's writing. Maybe I'm still in the other side of a cultural barrier, but still - Bill advocates what he does, and leaves the door open. Why would that be wrong, in any way?
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/23/11 09:18 PM

I certainly have left open the door because I do know that people can and do use a classic 4ths & 5ths temperament sequence along with a slow pull method successfully. All I am saying is that if those techniques have not worked for you, there are others which far more technicians have found to be successful.

I reiterate: What I learned in 1979 to be the "most mechanically correct" method proved to be true for me. Anyone is invited to demonstrate and/or prove that any other methods are superior.
Posted by: meadpiano

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/24/11 12:11 AM

I don't think the point should be to prove one method over the other. I do think though that presenting what works for you can help people to learn what works for them. I can't imagine using a smooth pull method for myself. Plus it somewhat blows my mind how many people use it and as far as I can tell with great success. But I can not say what method works the best because it would seem both work. I could say to someone here, take this bolt off, use this wrench. then I could take out a similar bolt with a ratchet. I may be faster but did the wrench not get the job done? Of course the wrench did fine and if it was used by someone who only uses wrenches his time might have not been bad! My point is I have been very frustrated many times when perfectly good threads get mussed up from all this back and forth. 'My methods better than your's' sometimes is whats going on and it reminds me of a saying that is only slightly different. It becomes very tiresome for people on the outset. I don't have any beef with anybody...can't we all just get along? buhuh buhuh buhuh :-)
Posted by: rysowers

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/24/11 12:04 PM

I believe the reality is that different pianos require different techniques. On some pianos the "slow pull" is more effective and on others the jerk method is better. Some pianos I tune at 1 'O clock, and others at 3.

What helps is to have an arsenal of techniques that will help you deal with the eccentricities of the piano at hand.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/24/11 01:36 PM

Originally Posted By: rysowers
I believe the reality is that different pianos require different techniques. On some pianos the "slow pull" is more effective and on others the jerk method is better. Some pianos I tune at 1 'O clock, and others at 3.

What helps is to have an arsenal of techniques that will help you deal with the eccentricities of the piano at hand.


Clearly, I agree with this. I could see that one of the people I had helped, struggling for over an hour just to set a temperament and failing badly, did not know how to manage a new piano with squeaky, tight and jumpy pins as I saw him attempt the slow pull method and heard the tuning pin lurch back and forth numerous times.

He told me that he had never tuned new pianos, only old ones that were usually not in very good condition. He came to the convention to learn and to take the tuning exam because he believes that becoming an RPT is the best thing he could do for himself. He already went to the school, has the certificate, learned the slow pull method on the old pianos at the school and also learned to tune a temperament sequence using 4ths & 5ths.

Six years ago, he had come to me to ask my advice. He demonstrated what he could do. Although he could tune excellent unisons, his temperament was, yes, sorry to say but in fact, true, reverse well and would not have passed the exam. He also had a rather poor concept of octaves.

From what I saw at the time, an attempt to pass the tuning exam would have been what is often seen with first time attempts, some good scores but others falling far short of passing. He also went to a local dealer who is an RPT and was told fairly bluntly that he would have to learn everything all over.

Naturally, he found both of our comments to be discouraging. He had the diploma! He trusted in what he had been taught. For the next few years, each time he asked me to listen to his temperament, it was always reverse well. As many have said, he had never heard of that, so he didn't know what I was talking about. I said that he would have to know what well temperament sounds like to understand. "We were not taught well temperament", he replied "Only equal temperament." "But your temperament is not equal", I countered. "The way I did it is the only way I know how. What am I doing wrong?", he asked.

It was not that he didn't know some checks, he did but his perception of them had not developed sufficiently enough to discern the errors he accepted as correct. "You have to try a different strategy", I said. "Like what?", he asked. "The contiguous thirds", I replied.

"Oh yeah, we learned something about those but I can't get them. I can't just pull beats out of thin air. I am better at 4ths and 5ths", he claimed. "Well, you are clearly not better at 4ths & 5ths since the result of tuning them is an unequal, not equal temperament", I said. "You must learn to do both", I insisted. "I can teach you what to do but you must be willing to learn something new or you will never progress beyond the point where you are now. It is not that what you were taught was wrong, you just have an incomplete understanding of it. In order for you to improve, you have to learn some new techniques", I told him.

It took a long time but slowly, he did improve. Still, while at the convention and wanting to practice, he could only find brand new squeaky tight-pinned Asian pianos to practice on. He had reverted to his slow pull method and that was what was causing him problems. He had always had a habit of blaming the piano for his inability to tune it. I told him that he had come to the end of the line for that.

"You must be able to adapt your technique to whatever resistance the piano has to offer. Any piano used for a tuning exam at the convention will likely be a new one with very tight tuning pins. That is not going to change. You have to change or you will fail but watch all the others who passed get their reward for it. They can do it, the examiners who did the master tuning had no problem with it, so either you find a way to do it that works or you never will.", I told him calmly but firmly.

He did have some impact skills within his range of technique and instantly found upon trying them that they indeed worked. He went on to take and pass the tuning exam the next day with some very impressive scores, three of them 100's in fact, one 88 which is still quite good but all the rest mid to high 90's. Not bad at all, above average and certainly above average for a first attempt.

Learning skills other than those which were traditionally taught was what it took for him to succeed. It is not about "my way" being the only way. I learned "my way" from other technicians in PTG. It is their way too. To suggest that I should not have shown that man what to do that would probably work for him because it "offends" some people in this forum is absurd.

I should not actually write the details and specifics of what to do that may work for some people when other methods have not because that is not "technical information", it is boasting and bragging. It is putting other people down so as to make myself look better. If that is what you, as an individual believe, you are entitled to your opinion. You have the right to express it and you also have the right to describe in your own words which techniques work the best for you, just as I do.

Some 30 years ago, I noticed that for every strongly held opinion or belief, there would eventually arise an opinion or belief contrary to it. I soon realized that this did not mean that one person was right and the other wrong. They were both right depending on certain factors, conditions and circumstances. It would be far more useful to try to understand where each is coming from than to take a polarized position.
Posted by: Gadzar

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 12:01 AM

I have learned to tune ET aurally by reading Bill Bremmer's posts and articles in his site and here in PW.

Before that, I tuned visually, with an ETD.

All Bill teaches about tuning is clear and straight to the point. One has no problems to follow his instructions. All he says is factible, opposed to what is adviced by UnrightTooner , who never has a clear answer to specific questions (i.e. how to temper a fifth in ET = describe what an apple tastes like) but always finds a way to missinterpret, missquote, question and bash what Bill says.

I have learned not a single thing from what you have posted here Tooner, how dare you criticize the most prolific and successfull piano-tuning teacher of PW? You don't have sufficient moral and intellectual authority to criticize him.

Jeff, don't you see that the balance goes against you?

Apart from Doel Kees and several amateurs and neophytes you have no followers here and Bill Bremmer has tons of them.

Please stop your bashing! Your defamatory remarks and unfounded assertions are not welcome here!

When, if ever, you have something constructive to say then your posts will be appreciated.

Posted by: DoelKees

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 12:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Gadzar
I have learned to tune ET aurally by reading Bill Bremmer's posts and articles in his site and here in PW.
Me too
Originally Posted By: Gadzar

Before that, I tuned visually, with an ETD.
Before that I tuned baroque well tempered, aurally.
Originally Posted By: Gadzar

All Bill teaches about tuning is clear and straight to the point. One has no problems to follow his instructions. All he says is factible, opposed to what is adviced by UnrightTooner , who never has a clear answer to specific questions (i.e. how to temper a fifth in ET = describe what an apple tastes like) but always finds a way to missinterpret, missquote, question and bash what Bill says.

I have learned not a single thing from what you have posted here Tooner, how dare you criticize the most prolific and successfull piano-tuning teacher of PW? You don't have sufficient moral and intellectual authority to criticize him.

Jeff, don't you see that the balance goes against you?

Apart from Doel Kees and several amateurs and neophytes you have no followers here and Bill Bremmer has tons of them.

My take is that if you're a beginning tuner you'd do well and even pass the RPT exam following Bill and not think much about it.

Jeff is more interested in going beyond that and coming up with a coherent practice and theory to tune even very poorly scaled pianos. His ideas on this I find very useful.
More generally I enjoy reading Jeff's critiques of Bill's posts, as he generally brings up valid critiques. The personal bashings from both sides we just have to ignore; this is just part of being passionate about the issue from both sides.

I wish the two people I appreciate most on this forum could get along, but it is possible to get things done without getting along!

Kees
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 08:13 AM

Originally Posted By: pppat
…..

Jeff,

I see no intended offense in Bill's writing. Maybe I'm still in the other side of a cultural barrier, but still - Bill advocates what he does, and leaves the door open. Why would that be wrong, in any way?


Here is an example: I ate corn flakes for breakfast. Mechanical pencils are far superior to wooden ones. The air conditioning in the car felt great. Those that do not use mechanical pencils are behind the times. I did not have to dodge any deer on the way to work. Using wooden pencils is a waste of resources.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 09:27 AM

I think some people take offense or read something into what I write when no criticism or offense was implied or intended. Yes, I have said that the Braide-White and other books written a hundred years ago are obsolete. So are any number of other books on other subjects. New information does come to light. Nearly anyone who does use those classic temperament sequences has to supplement what is written there with information gleaned from elsewhere.

A slow pull hammer technique likewise, is one way of manipulating a tuning hammer. It is what one might do naturally. If one ever tuned a guitar, one turned the pegs. If one ever tuned a harpsichord or forte piano, one had a key and turned the pins. One hundred years ago, pianos had pinblocks made of a few laminates of hard rock maple. Only large pianos were made then which had predictable scales.

Perhaps technicians back then would often take two hours to tune a piano and consider that to be the amount of time it should take. I can't imagine tuning a square grand in less time or ever getting one of those in tune to anywhere near the standards that are expected today. If one saw some of the pianos in the PTG museum, one would wonder how anyone ever coped with those. I doubt that any of them ever sounded as in tune as we can do with the knowledge and tools we have today.

Now we have pianos made with modern pinblocks which have a dozen or more laminates. When they are new, these pianos are very challenging to tune. It only makes sense to use a different technique on them.

Both Jack Stebbins and I have shown how the use of contiguous thirds serve to divide an octave into three equal parts regardless of irregular scaling and regardless of the placement of wound strings. Jim Coleman, Sr. also shows how to cope with these scale changes in his lectures and when he tutors. I have worked directly with and under him and shown many students what to do and how to do it. The results are always predictable and correct.

None of that was or ever is meant as a criticism of anyone who chooses to use other methods. It is a suggested strategy for those who have tried those methods and failed repeatedly. "If that method does not work for you, then try this and determine for yourself if it works better for you". There is no put down or offense implied to anyone with such suggestions. Anyone who wants to also has the right to find fault or criticism with impact hammer techniques or the use of contiguous thirds.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 12:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
And you never miss an opportunity to bash Bill either do you?


And Jerry never misses an oppurtunity to bash Jeff when he bashes Bill for bashing 4ths and 5ths.....
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 03:09 PM

Put a lid on it Jeff. Stop looking for and creating trouble. Go into your own thread instead of highjacking this one.
Posted by: Rockin'88

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 03:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Put a lid on it Jeff. Stop looking for and creating trouble. Go into your own thread instead of highjacking this one.


LOL!!!!
I love it when the grown-ups fight.
Posted by: wayne walker

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 04:23 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
And you never miss an opportunity to bash Bill either do you?


And Jerry never misses an oppurtunity to bash Jeff when he bashes Bill for bashing 4ths and 5ths.....


Jeff, you just prove what I was thinking, you are an
Posted by: pppat

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 04:49 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner


Here is an example: I ate corn flakes for breakfast. Mechanical pencils are far superior to wooden ones. The air conditioning in the car felt great. Those that do not use mechanical pencils are behind the times. I did not have to dodge any deer on the way to work. Using wooden pencils is a waste of resources.

smile well, I wouldn't personally take offense from any of the lines above. Possibly the "behind the times" might bug me, but then again, all are entitled to their opinion.

(Having a bad day, all of the above might get to me)
Posted by: pppat

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 04:55 PM

Oh, and by the way, anybody interested in talking about hammer technique, honoring the thread?

I think Bill's technique is outstanding. Have a problem with it personally, because I feel-I-have-to-feel the pin all the way through. If not, I get unsure.

Anybody?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 05:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Rockin'88

I love it when the grown-ups fight.


When you find the grown-ups in this thread let us all know.
Posted by: pppat

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 06:10 PM

Dan: an easy remark to make. Pin-point any juvenile stuff instead, then we can have a constructive discussion.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 06:21 PM

Originally Posted By: pppat
.......... then we can have a constructive discussion.


If such a thing did exist here, there would be a lot more experienced techs on this board.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t waste any of my valuable time.
Posted by: pppat

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 06:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: pppat
.......... then we can have a constructive discussion.


If such a thing did exist here, there would be a lot more experienced techs on this board.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t waste any of my valuable time.


If so, you are wasting time right now, entering syllables here. Do not feel obliged in any way smile
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 08:27 PM

Patrick,

I typically use the jerk method with my tuning hammer. That's the way I was taught. But, I also use the tap tap method similar to what Bill uses and it does work very well. It doesn't take much effort to get a string to move and to be in tune. The biggest effort is making sure the note is stable and set. Of course, it depends on the piano I'm tuning at the moment too. Some pianos just fall right into place very easily with no effort whereas others need a little bit of coaxing and others, a LOT of coaxing! My dad always said, let the piano know who's boss. Take control. When that happens, you are in control of what happens to the pin, string and the rest of the piano in tuning. Of course, some pianos are persistently pesky, but for the most part, when we take control of the tuning hammer, it is we, who are in control of that tuning pins destiny regardless of which method we use. Each of us must find a method that works best for us and that method may very well not be what I use. But, then again, it might... Trial and error works best. The more we fool around with the pin, going back and forth, back and forth, the less stable the pin and the string, becomes. The sooner we can get it in tune, the better all the way around. We are finished sooner, we make more money, the piano stays in tune longer and everyone is happier.

When raising pitch, I do not always go above first and then down and in tune. If the pin sets as it's going in tune, great, it's in tune and then I'm done.

Currently, I am considering purchasing a Cyber Tuning impact hammer. Loren uses one and boasts that it is wonderful. I tried Dean's at the convention. I was amazed at how easily it bumped the pin and string right in tune and with so little effort. I think in a few weeks, I will buy one.

There, that's my contribution. Did it help any? smile
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 08:46 PM

Jerry,
I for one found it helpful!

I seem to recall from the "4 techs" video that when Bill is doing his "tap tap" method, he just nudges the pin/string into tune without needing to go above pitch and finish with a counterclockwise movement. I am assuming that there is something about this technique which promotes pin setting, in addition to string setting?

If so, would seem to potentially save time during a tuning. A couple seconds saved at each string could add up.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 08:54 PM

Yes, it adds up very quickly indeed. If we saved 3 seconds on each string x 200 some strings adds up to quite a bit of saved time. Over 600 seconds. I think that is about 10 minutes +.

Using small incremental movements not GIANT movements when tuning unless you're raising pitch 1/2 tone, will lead you to an in tune piano quicker than jumping all over the place going past "in tune" 6 different times. Or, one quick, accurately placed movement, giant or not, will bring you close to being in tune after which you can tap tap tap the remainder of the way. Or, jerk, jerk, jerk.

We are of course, striking the string at the same time with the hammer because we strike the key each time we are moving the pin. Each movement requires another hit of the string to check it and to check the tuning. The key is to try and set the pin at the exact same moment you put the string in tune. With practice, it can be done.

Posted by: pppat

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 09:01 PM

Jer,

I kind of thought that you would go for the impact hammer smile smile
Please let me know if it worked out for you.

By the way, I have passed on the rumor of this guy I know who can pitch raise in six minutes. They all go "Wow" and I feel proud smile
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/25/11 10:47 PM

Ah, we're back on topic! smile Yes, all pianos are different, and all react differently to various techniques. There are ones where you can go right to it and it's there, and then there are others that, well....

Jerry, glad you're thinking about the Cyberhammer! You'll love it, I'm surel Its been a lifesaver for me; no more coming home with a sore shoulder and arm. I'm debating now on whether or not to get a grand Cyberhammer or a Fujan for grands, On one hand, $900, on the other hand, $400....
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 08:29 AM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Put a lid on it Jeff. Stop looking for and creating trouble. Go into your own thread instead of highjacking this one.


Jerry:

You don't get it. Bill was hijacking this hammer technique thread into a temperament sequence thread. THAT is what triggered my objection.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 09:29 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Put a lid on it Jeff. Stop looking for and creating trouble. Go into your own thread instead of highjacking this one.


Jerry:

You don't get it. Bill was hijacking this hammer technique thread into a temperament sequence thread. THAT is what triggered my objection.


Jeff,

I can see how you perceived that but really the two topics are inter-related. Hammer technique is used to tune a temperament as well as the rest of the piano, is it not? I related how I helped a struggling exam hopeful who had spent an hour trying to tune a temperament but failed. I had worked with him over several years. He could not tune a successful temperament without changing his strategy. The night before the exam, changing his hammer technique strategy proved to be the key to his success.

I am not deliberately "bashing" cycle of 5ths ET sequences. I have only tried to point out and demonstrate why for some people (certainly not all), such approaches have not worked. I could use one just as successfully as you or the many people who use them do.

However, after many years (now 20) of serving as an examiner and witnessing rather consistent trends among those who pass and those who fail, I believe I know and thoroughly understand what the problems are and have sought solutions to them. Apparently, those efforts have been successful.

Those efforts and the reporting of them, both in hammer technique and temperament sequence are not intended to demean, mock or ridicule you or anyone else who uses traditional/classic methods in any way. I have said this repeatedly, yet the mere mention of a modern strategy is called "bashing".

You or anyone else is invited to start an in depth thread on classic/traditional methods, what it takes to use them and perfect them. Let technicians try both sides of the issue and decide for themselves which works best for them.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 09:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
.....

I reiterate: What I learned in 1979 to be the "most mechanically correct" method proved to be true for me. Anyone is invited to demonstrate and/or prove that any other methods are superior.


Yes, back to the subject.

Bill: How was it explained to you why this is the "most mechanically correct" method? I am not so much interested in why YOU think so as why those that taught you thought so.

[Edit:] Didn't mean to crosspost, Bill.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 09:52 AM

Bill:

I stand by original comment about you bashing 4ths and 5ths tuning and tuners and changing the subject:

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
.....

I know why the traditional sequence does not work for many people and have explained why it does not work many times. It may well be true that some technicians successfully tune a piano using a traditional sequence and a slow pull hammer technique. Inevitably, however, these are the people who take far longer to tune a piano than those who use a much more efficient and mechanically correct technique. The temperament sequence is analogous. Compounded and cumulative errors are inevitable with that method and they take much more time and skill to sort out and correct than a sequence that leads one far closer to perfection on the first attempt at tuning each string.

.....

The highlighted sentences show that you do not consider 4ths and 5ths tuning or a slow pull hammer technique to be viable alternatives at all. Piggybacking one on top of another is doubly insulting. You only give lip service to the idea that other methods have their place. Doing so makes it worse yet. I do not believe you are sincere in saying:

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
.....

I am not deliberately "bashing" cycle of 5ths ET sequences. I have only tried to point out and demonstrate why for some people (certainly not all), such approaches have not worked.

.....

But this does not mean we cannot still discuss the subject. smile
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 09:59 AM

I give up on this thread. Jeff keeps bringing up 4ths and 5ths. This could have been a good thread about Bill's hammer technique.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 10:14 AM

I criticize someone else for bringing up 4ths and 5ths and then get blamed as if I was the one that brought it up! Well, I can’t take that sort of thing seriously either.

HaHaHaHaHaHa!
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 10:45 AM

Whatever, Jeff. The fact remains that we were doing fine until you started with your personal slam against Bill. Why don't you just start a Personal Slam Against Bill thread and leave us to discuss his hammer technique?
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 10:57 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
I criticize someone else for bringing up 4ths and 5ths and then get blamed as if I was the one that brought it up! Well, I can’t take that sort of thing seriously either.

HaHaHaHaHaHa!


That's my point. You showed up to criticize.
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 11:00 AM

Ok. Stop feeding the trolls and back on topic..
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/26/11 11:16 AM

Yes, please. Back on topic.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/27/11 09:55 AM

According to George Defebaugh and Jim Coleman Sr. to this day, (also supported by Owen Jorgensen and Dean Reyburn and the makers of any kind of impact style tuning hammer), an impact type technique is the most mechanically correct manipulation of a piano string because:


  • A sudden movement is more prone to cause the whole pin and all segments of the string to move at once.
  • This minimizes the need for further adjustment once the desired pitch is attained.
  • An impact movement is therefore more mechanically correct because it achieves the goal not only more efficiently but avoids distortion of the tuning pin, (twisting and bending) and excessive tension in the first segment of the string which could cause string breakage. Since all segments of the string are more likely to be moved equally, the need for test blows and further "setting" of the pin are minimized.


On the other hand (now my conclusion from the above and based on experience observing technicians who use a slow pull technique, especially with very tight tuning pins):


  • A slow pull will tend to bend and twist the tuning pin, causing instability if these effects are not corrected.
  • Excess tension in the first segment of the string may be created and may result in string breakage whereas an impact movement may avoid that condition.
  • A slow pull may cause uneven tension in various segments of the string, thereby necessitating the use of multiple test blows to counter that effect.
  • Further efforts at undoing the twist and bend in the pin are necessary, requiring multiple adjustments for each string before it is settled.
  • Especially in the case of very tight tuning pins, a gentle impact can move the pin in small increments very easily and with very little muscle stress while a slow movement may cause the pin to move uncontrollably.
  • Slow pulling and pushing of each and ever pin with multiple needed corrections not only takes far more time than one or two quick movements, it puts constant stress on the muscles and tendons used in this effort. This causes fatigue and may cause other conditions such as tendinitis. It also limits the number of tunings which may be performed in a day.


Having said the above, there is a time and place for a slow pull technique and I occasionally (but not usually) use that technique when it is appropriate. That is in the case of marginally loose tuning pins which respond better to a slow manipulation of the pin.

It is a myth to say that one does not "feel" the pin move with an impact type technique. At the very first movement of a pin in any piano, one gains immediately a sense of how tight the pins are and how much force of impact is required to move the pin. The pin is definitely felt to either move or not with each impact. With experience, this sensation can be felt in fractions of a second and may appear to an observer as not being part of what the technician doing actually experiences. After a few pins at most, it is often possible to tune the remaining pins with one to a few quick strokes and move on.

(Apparently, Loren, the original poster noticed this as soon as he tried it).

This is why it is possible for many skilled technicians to tune an entire piano sometimes in as little as 30-45 minutes and generally within an hour or less. It is clear to me that a slow pull technique requires far more time. It is also clear to me why technicians who only use that kind of technique find it incredulous how some technicians claim to tune a piano in so little time.

Other factors include how much time it takes to move mutes and how much time it takes to move the hammer from one pin to the next.

The choice is still up to the individual. Some technicians simply do not feel comfortable with an impact technique or are unable to learn to use one, perhaps because of so many years of practicing a slow pull technique, an impact style seems awkward or unnatural. As long as one is able to do a correct and stable tuning, there is no reason for criticism. However, if a person has been struggling for years with less than satisfactory results, a change of strategy may be the solution to the problem.
Posted by: Rockin'88

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/27/11 11:34 AM

Another bookmark.
Thank you, Bill

Robert
Posted by: Mark Davis

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/27/11 02:54 PM

Bill, what hammer technique do you use for 30-60 cent pitch adjustments?
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/27/11 09:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark Davis
Bill, what hammer technique do you use for 30-60 cent pitch adjustments?


Thanks for the question, Mark. In particular, I would use an impact technique. Always, bump the pin just a little counterclockwise first, then with gentle taps, raise the pitch up to and just a bit beyond the target (on such large pitch raises), then nudge it down to pitch.

Quote:
I have maybe had 1-2% of the strings snap and even then that maybe due to certain other reasons, not the slow pull method.


If you really had 2% of the strings break, that would be about 4-5 per piano! So, I am assuming you meant very few and infrequently. An older piano usually won't have very tight tuning pins but it may have weaker strings and they may have a strong set at the first termination point. There may be corrosion that creates excess friction. Some people recommend a lubricant but I rarely if ever use one. It could just muck things up or may get on the winding of the Bass strings.

That is the twofold reason for doing a counterclockwise movement first: ease the set and break the resistance of any corrosion.

Using a slow pull to raise the pitch won't necessarily cause a string to break and an impact movement won't necessarily prevent it but I still firmly believe that an impact movement minimizes that risk. You will most likely find it to be less stressful as well.

A slow pull involves considerable stress on many of the muscles and tendons of the arm and shoulder. An impact technique only utilizes enough muscle to lift your arm with no resistance. You won't want to use the tender center of the palm to strike the tuning hammer (a hammer with a ball end is best) but rather the tougher heal of the hand.

I have suffered both tendinitis and a complete tear of the right rotator cuff in the past (due to an accidental fall). The tendinitis (yes that is apparently the right way to spell that word) was due to too much repetitive gripping of a standard lever handle. See for yourself as you tightly grip such a handle and watch the muscles in your forearm rise in stress. An impact motion causes virtually none of that kind of stress.

Whenever you do feel fatigue or pain in your arm coming on, stop for a few moments, shake your arm out, stretch and massage any area that feels tight or painful. Especially don't ignore pain or take pain relievers for it. Relax, stretch and massage instead.

A pain reliever may ease the pain but you will do more damage if you keep doing what caused the pain while the medication only masks it. I know this from experience! Tendinitis can be very painful and take a very long time to get rid of if you have a bad case of it. Self employed people can't just take six weeks off or be re-assigned to a desk job.

I rarely break a string but when I do, it is most often when I have to make a large pitch correction and I neglect to do the counterclockwise movement first. When raising the pitch a large amount, do it with gentle taps rather than one huge slam. I believe if you try that and get comfortable with the impact technique, you will cut down on string breakage to the point where it is a rare incident.
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/27/11 10:50 PM

I have a question about the "tapping" technique vs "jerking" the hammer. I think I understand the jerk movement, but wondering how one actually does the tapping movement of the hammer.

1. What part of the hand do you use to tap the handle of the hammer? Fingers held flat, sort of "slapping" the handle? Edge of the fist? Other?

2. Can you do the tapping technique with a typical hammer (I have a Dan Levitan) - in other words, a hammer that doesn't have a ball end?

(I have thought about finding a wooden ball, drilling out the middle, and fitting it over the handle of my Levitan hammer to simulate the Mother Goose hammer.)
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/27/11 11:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: pppat
...constructive discussion.
If such a thing did exist here, there would be a lot more experienced techs on this board.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t waste any of my valuable time.
Understandable, but regrettable: I learned a lot from your posts. I can't imagine I'm the only one.

Kees
Posted by: Mark Davis

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 01:40 AM

Thank you Bill. Yes, I did mean that I have had very few strings break since I began tuning. I suppose, off the top of my head, I can think of only a hanful of broken strings over the last nine years. I think that my years repinning and restringing pianos prior to me learning to tune helped me to have a sense of when a string was at a point that it was being overstrained/overstressed.

I need to get into the habit of the counter clockwise movement.

I will be employing the impact method more in tuning.

Thank you, Regards,
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 06:59 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve W
I have a question about the "tapping" technique vs "jerking" the hammer. I think I understand the jerk movement, but wondering how one actually does the tapping movement of the hammer.

1. What part of the hand do you use to tap the handle of the hammer? Fingers held flat, sort of "slapping" the handle? Edge of the fist? Other?

2. Can you do the tapping technique with a typical hammer (I have a Dan Levitan) - in other words, a hammer that doesn't have a ball end?

(I have thought about finding a wooden ball, drilling out the middle, and fitting it over the handle of my Levitan hammer to simulate the Mother Goose hammer.)


1. I use the soft palm of my hand. Hasn't been an issue, and I don't recollect any need to get used to it.

2. When I first tried it and started using it, I used a traditional Schaff rosewood lever with no problem. The only thing is, now and then the handle would be close to a plate strut, so there was no room to tap it.

Hope that helps!
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 08:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark Davis
Thank you Bill.

I need to get into the habit of the counter clockwise movement.

Thank you, Regards,


As mentioned in another post, part of the total time it takes to tune is the transfer of the hammer from one pin to the next. I have seen a you tube video of a beginner taking considerable time to locate the next pin, for example. One thing I learned from a great piano technician, Steve Fairchild (who has the Guiness World Record as being the very quickest tuner) is to keep or put your eye on the next tuning pin.

I use a #3 tip which fits loosely on the pin but goes down deep. This gives me the option of using either the "jerk" style or the impact technique as I see fit (also permits a slow pull). Therefore, the socket slides easily and quickly onto the tuning pin. Other technician's tuning hammers (some of my students) don't slide on so easily, therefore taking up time between each transfer.

The counterclockwise movement does not need to take much, if any time at all. I often thing of the tuning hammer placement as "throwing" the tuning hammer on the pin. As I "throw" it on, the mere momentum of the hammer causes the pin to move suddenly and slightly counterclockwise, so that action is accomplished instantaneously and the pitch raise begins in yet another instant as my hand falls upon the ball end of the tuning hammer.

For moderate pitch changes, this often means that I can tune a string to rough pitch (during the pitch correction phase of the tuning) in about 1 second if I succeed in tuning the string with a single stroke. The transfer to the next tuning pin is often accomplished in another split second movement. This does not mean I appear nervously rushed. Many who have observed me say that I appear totally relaxed but amazingly quick in my movements.

I don't mean the above to be bragging or boasting. I have spent well over 30 years tuning full time, so this quickness and a feel for it have come with decades of practice tuning at least four pianos a day with a minimum of two passes on each piano. So, don't try to exceed your own ability at first. Try to implement the techniques and the speed will come as your hand and arm movements become natural for you.

One thing that I will say is that when I do need to work as quickly as possible, I put my concentration on what I am doing in "high gear". Many of my customers have commented on how focused I seem to be. That ability to focus and keep the momentum of the process flowing is also an acquired skill.

When I was just beginning as a full time tuner, one of my local colleagues noted how slow I was (back in the late 70's when I was using a slow pull technique and often taking several attempts to get a string on pitch). He said, "There is rhythm in music; there should be a rhythm in piano tuning too". There was much wisdom in that statement. If a string can be brought to pitch and be stabilized with one or two strokes, it tends to hold that precise pitch much better than with many repeated maneuvers. Other technicians on here like Jerry Groot have also made the same comment.

I would also add that during this season in North America when many pianos are high in pitch, I can often "throw" the tuning hammer on the pin and lower the string to pitch in a single movement. That is, the mere quick placement of the tuning hammer upon the pin tunes the string with no other action required. When that happens, it really can take only about one second from string to string. It won't happen with every string, of course but the more times that it works, the less time it takes to tune the entire piano. It is also a very low stress operation.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 08:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve W
I have a question about the "tapping" technique vs "jerking" the hammer. I think I understand the jerk movement, but wondering how one actually does the tapping movement of the hammer.

1. What part of the hand do you use to tap the handle of the hammer? Fingers held flat, sort of "slapping" the handle? Edge of the fist? Other?

2. Can you do the tapping technique with a typical hammer (I have a Dan Levitan) - in other words, a hammer that doesn't have a ball end?

(I have thought about finding a wooden ball, drilling out the middle, and fitting it over the handle of my Levitan hammer to simulate the Mother Goose hammer.)


Thanks Loren for chiming in on this.

I first got the impact style from the lecture by George Defebaugh and Jim Coleman, Sr. at the 1979 PTG convention in Minneapolis which was a life changing event for me. George proudly announced at one point, "I am a jerk tuner. He got a nice laugh from the audience. I have talked a lot about an impact technique but I consider the "jerk" style to be just that.

There is a certain amount of play in the tuning hammer socket, so I use that play to its own advantage. Some people have even asked me if I had an impact type tuning hammer because of the way they have seen me use it. I have answered, "No, it is a standard tuning hammer but I use it sometimes as if it were an impact hammer."

I remember seeing Jim Coleman, Sr. who had a standard tuning hammer with a regular handle. I have never seen a ball end tuning hammer for about another 20 years. What I remember is that (tuning a vertical piano), Jim had the hammer at about 2 o'clock and he appeared to me to use what looked like a "Karate Chop" on it.

That would mean that he struck the hammer with the heel of his hand. You can also use your palm and literally "slap" the string into tune. If this causes you any discomfort, however (such as with very tight tuning pins), move to a less sensitive part of your hand which can take the impacts with no discomfort.

I have seen many technicians at the last convention with a Dan Levitan hammer. Dan is a superb technician and his design for a hammer has been thoroughly researched. However, I have not tried it. I would not argue with his design concept or his reasoning. However, I could see just by looking at it that I could not use it as efficiently as I use my own.

There have been people who have made ball ends to fit over a standard tuning hammer lever. I have even seen them in a supply house catalog. I have seen people hollow out a tennis ball (but that would be soft) or a baseball (harder). But I don't think you would need to do either to use the "Karate Chop" or "slap" technique as mentioned above.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 09:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
According to George Defebaugh and Jim Coleman Sr. to this day, (also supported by Owen Jorgensen and Dean Reyburn and the makers of any kind of impact style tuning hammer), an impact type technique is the most mechanically correct manipulation of a piano string because:


  • A sudden movement is more prone to cause the whole pin and all segments of the string to move at once.
  • This minimizes the need for further adjustment once the desired pitch is attained.
  • An impact movement is therefore more mechanically correct because it achieves the goal not only more efficiently but avoids distortion of the tuning pin, (twisting and bending) and excessive tension in the first segment of the string which could cause string breakage. Since all segments of the string are more likely to be moved equally, the need for test blows and further "setting" of the pin are minimized.


On the other hand (now my conclusion from the above and based on experience observing technicians who use a slow pull technique, especially with very tight tuning pins):


  • A slow pull will tend to bend and twist the tuning pin, causing instability if these effects are not corrected.
  • Excess tension in the first segment of the string may be created and may result in string breakage whereas an impact movement may avoid that condition.
  • A slow pull may cause uneven tension in various segments of the string, thereby necessitating the use of multiple test blows to counter that effect.
  • Further efforts at undoing the twist and bend in the pin are necessary, requiring multiple adjustments for each string before it is settled.
  • Especially in the case of very tight tuning pins, a gentle impact can move the pin in small increments very easily and with very little muscle stress while a slow movement may cause the pin to move uncontrollably.
  • Slow pulling and pushing of each and ever pin with multiple needed corrections not only takes far more time than one or two quick movements, it puts constant stress on the muscles and tendons used in this effort. This causes fatigue and may cause other conditions such as tendinitis. It also limits the number of tunings which may be performed in a day.


.....


Thank you for posting this, Bill.

Like you I use both methods, although I use a jerking rather than a tapping technique for impact tuning. Of course I use the impact as a last resort for tight pins while you use a smooth pull as a last resort for looser pins.

There is something crucial that is not mentioned in the comparisons of the methods. The comparisons do not mention accuracy. That is why I prefer a smooth pull. I can leave the foot of the pin exactly where I want it. I am not limited to the smallest amount that the pin can be moved with an impact. Yes, there can be problems with pin twisting and ergonomics. But there are ways to lessen those problems. As far as string breakage, bumping the pitch down a hair first is the best answer. But if it comes to exchanging accuracy for speed, that is not my style at all. And that is what has happened when I have favored an impact style.
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 10:15 AM

Bill and Loren,

I've used a pulling technique up to now (which is not a long time, as you know), with my lever typically at 1 or 2 o'clock, the right hand grabbing the lever from behind the lever - i.e. when I open my fingers' grip on the lever, my palm is behind the lever, and facing me.

When you speak of the "Karate Chop" with the lever at about 2 o'clock, should I visualize this as my hand being in front of the lever, palm facing away from me?
Posted by: Steve W

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 10:54 AM

Loren, Bill,
Thanks for the replies - very helpful.

I will have to give this a try. I am still trying to visualize using the "tapping" method on a grand. Seems like one would almost need to use the heel of the hand when turning CCW, and also seems to me that without a ball end that it would be difficult to turn CW on a grand if the hammer is at around 2:00 or so - but then I haven't really tried it.

When a think of more of a "jerk" motion, seems to me that one is still gripping the handle of the hammer in a conventional way, but when "tapping" you don't really grip the handle.

Am I thinking about this correctly?
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 09:35 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner


Thank you for posting this, Bill.

(snip)

Like you I use both methods, although I use a jerking rather than a tapping technique for impact tuning. Of course I use the impact as a last resort for tight pins while you use a smooth pull as a last resort for looser pins.

There is something crucial that is not mentioned in the comparisons of the methods. The comparisons do not mention accuracy. That is why I prefer a smooth pull. (snip) But if it comes to exchanging accuracy for speed, that is not my style at all. And that is what has happened when I have favored an impact style.


Jeff,

I thank you for realizing that there is some common ground between us. As far as accuracy goes, I can assure you that the utmost in accuracy can be achieved with an impact method, otherwise, one who uses an impact tuning hammer could only use it for rough tuning. Those who use such a hammer do not trade off for fine tuning.

Likewise, I continue to use an impact style for the finest adjustments. It may seem incredulous to you or anyone else who is most familiar with a slow pull (or push) technique but I can assure you that the very finest adjustments can be made this way.

I know this because it is my way of life and the way I earn my living every day and have now, full time for over 30 years.

I drove 50 miles northeast this morning to tune a Wurlitzer spinet that had not been tuned in several years. It was mostly sharp, not flat. It also had regulation and hammer alignment issues, both of which were addressed and I was still done in about an hour.

Then I drove to 30 north of town to tune a Mason & Hamlin model A, very well maintained by me for many years. I tuned, changed the humidifier wicks and cleaned it in 45 minutes.

Then I drove to 35 miles west of town to a Yamaha C3. Tuned it, cleaned it, aligned hammers, adjusted capstans and fixed a squeaking pedal in 90 minutes. Then I drove 35 miles back to town to a Steinway model M near the campus stadium. It was tuned in 30 minutes but I also cleaned it in less than one minute and changed the wicks in another few minutes.

I sat and talked to the lady for a few minutes because she seemed to want that. Still, I was in my car at 4:30 PM.

I still had to go to the piano store to turn in invoices and collect for the work I had done for them. Checked on an old upright that my student who passed the tuning exam at the convention and I had worked on and found it to be quite deliverable, had a 10 minute conversation with the moving man about his progress, went to the post office to mail a template for a Touch Rail system which I will install soon, to the bank, to the gas station and to the grocery store and was home at 6 PM after leaving at 8 AM.

That is simply the reality of a full time piano technician who earns his entire living tuning and servicing pianos. I earned the most money from the Wurlitzer spinet. I simply don't have time and have not for three decades to slow pull much of anything into tune. I have to do all my work with the utmost of efficiency. I spent more time driving and with other activities than I did tuning but any of my tunings that I did today are of the utmost professional quality. They have to be or I am not the one they call.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 09:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark R.
Bill and Loren,

When you speak of the "Karate Chop" with the lever at about 2 o'clock, should I visualize this as my hand being in front of the lever, palm facing away from me?


Yes
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/28/11 09:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve W
Loren, Bill,
Thanks for the replies - very helpful.

I will have to give this a try. I am still trying to visualize using the "tapping" method on a grand. Seems like one would almost need to use the heel of the hand when turning CCW, and also seems to me that without a ball end that it would be difficult to turn CW on a grand if the hammer is at around 2:00 or so - but then I haven't really tried it.

When a think of more of a "jerk" motion, seems to me that one is still gripping the handle of the hammer in a conventional way, but when "tapping" you don't really grip the handle.

Am I thinking about this correctly?


2-3 o'clock for a grand. Yes, you are thinking about it correctly.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/29/11 09:08 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner

There is something crucial that is not mentioned in the comparisons of the methods. The comparisons do not mention accuracy.


One more thought on this. I often show this to my customers. I say, "What if I wanted to move this piano 1/2 millimeter sideways?" I have them place their hand on the side of the piano. Then I push or pull on the piano from the opposite side. I say, "Can you feel anything?" and the answer is, of course, "No." Then I tap and slap on the piano ans ask, "Can you feel those impacts?" The ans were is always, "Yes".

Then I say, "So, if I wanted to move this massive piano over that very small amount, I could probably do that better using slight bumps than I could is I merely pushed on it. If I pushed on it, it would probably resist until it finally moved, then it would probably move too far and I would have to pull it back again and it may take many such pushing and pulling attempts before I got it right. On the other hand, one gentle bump might do it just right the first time, easily and efficiently."

I would be able to feel that the piano yielded to my impact just as well as if I were pushing on it using many more muscles under a lot of stress.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/29/11 09:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner

There is something crucial that is not mentioned in the comparisons of the methods. The comparisons do not mention accuracy.


One more thought on this. I often show this to my customers. I say, "What if I wanted to move this piano 1/2 millimeter sideways?" I have them place their hand on the side of the piano. Then I push or pull on the piano from the opposite side. I say, "Can you feel anything?" and the answer is, of course, "No." Then I tap and slap on the piano ans ask, "Can you feel those impacts?" The ans were is always, "Yes".

Then I say, "So, if I wanted to move this massive piano over that very small amount, I could probably do that better using slight bumps than I could is I merely pushed on it. If I pushed on it, it would probably resist until it finally moved, then it would probably move too far and I would have to pull it back again and it may take many such pushing and pulling attempts before I got it right. On the other hand, one gentle bump might do it just right the first time, easily and efficiently."

I would be able to feel that the piano yielded to my impact just as well as if I were pushing on it using many more muscles under a lot of stress.


I agree completely with your analogy and is the reason why I use a jerking technique for very tight pins, and even have chosen a very heavy hammer, a “speed” hammer.

But on more normal pianos, and especially after a bump to make sure that you are starting below pitch, you are not trying to move the pin an infinitesimal amount. And the pin moving too far when once started is not a problem. Then it would be more like moving a chair. Just get it moving and slide it until it gets to where you want and stop. I notice as long as you keep torque on the pin and don’t quite stop moving it, you do not need to break that initial friction again and then have it move too far.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Tried Bill Bremmer's hammer technique today - 07/29/11 08:27 PM

I will Patrick. I'm not going to purchase it just yet, probably closer to the end of August just before I start my September tunings at the college. I'm saving my pennies after going to Florida for 3 weeks, attending the convention, paying my sons way and taking more vacation time this summer too! smile I have to work for a living again! smile

I figure, or hope anyway, that it will help lower pitch easier (?) and better and it may help tune some of these newer...1 year old pianos that can be a bit shall we say, stubborn?... smile Who knows, maybe I can check my pitch raise speed again once if my shoulder holds up better. That's been my biggest problem lately... In fact, that's my main reason for purchasing it. I'm hoping to alleviate the pain in my shoulder and arm from tuning and continual movement in that area. Plus, another tuner friend of mine Loren, who is also on here, HIGHLY recommended it because he already has a Cyber Tuning Hammer.