David Stanwood Patent (SALA)

Posted by: Piano World

David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 04/20/11 11:24 PM

You probably already know this, but ...


David Stanwood of West Tisbury receives piano-tuning patent

© By Susan L. Silk
Martha's Vineyard Times
Published: April 20, 2011

A lifetime of loving the piano, four years of research and development and two years of crossing the t's and dotting the i's on the paperwork, and West Tisbury piano innovator David Stanwood now holds a U.S. patent for a mechanism that allows pianists to customize the feel and sound of a piano in a matter of seconds.

David Stanwood holds US Patent number 7,915,509 for his "movable pivot bearing for changing key leverage in stringed keyboard instruments," pictured here.

This patent — # 7,915,509 — is in Mr. Stanwood's words "a movable pivot bearing for changing key leverage in stringed keyboard instruments." The Stanwood adjustable leverage action (SALA) mechanism is installed so that by turning two knobs in the front of the keyboard a pianist may alter the way a piano performs.

Mr. Stanwood explained that in a normal piano there are small discs of felt that sit over pins creating a pivot point and each of the 88-keys rock back and forth. The pin holds the key in place. The SALA mechanism makes the pivot point moveable so that it becomes heavier or lighter as the pianist wishes.

The mechanism allows a pianist to select one of five unique keyboard settings and so customize the settings for a Bach symphony or a Chopin concerto, for example. The SALA mechanism "changes the personal relationship, changes what the piano is to the pianist. It changes the relationship and that has a huge value. It increases the quality of the performance, the joy of playing and the possibilities of the music," Mr. Stanwood said.

"It allows the pianist to be their best in a way that was never possible before. They can actually tune these knobs and find their 'sweet spot' where they really start to kick and feel something special. Quite often before this it was a question of technique which not everybody has. So it really broadens the availability of a perfect instrument," he said.

The mechanism may be retrofitted into existing pianos or built into a piano as it is being originally constructed. To date nine grand pianos have been custom-fit with the mechanism and, Mr. Stanwood said, another five customers are waiting for the installation. Concert halls and private owners of high-end pianos are his customers to date. The mechanism costs $10,000 to install.

Mr. Stanwood installed the first SALA mechanism in a nine-foot Steinway concert piano owned by Brandeis University in Waltham. "We wanted to start somewhere that was not a major conservatory. We wanted to test it someplace small to make sure everything is working. "

Brandeis University PhD student Jared Redmond, age 25, is the first pianist to play a SALA-retrofitted grand piano in a concert setting and first performed with the SALA on September 12, 2010. During a telephone interview with The Times, Mr. Redmond said," From my perspective the most remarkable benefit is that all of a sudden one piano becomes many pianos."


The rest of the article and a picture here...

http://www.mvtimes.com/marthas-vineyard/article.php?id=5292
Posted by: BDB

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/20/11 11:29 PM

How could we have ever lived without this for the past 300 years?
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/20/11 11:48 PM

Quote:
The mechanism allows a pianist to select one of five unique keyboard settings and so customize the settings for a Bach symphony..

Bach didn't write any more symphonies than Pythagoras tuned Steinway grands.

Kees
Posted by: Bernhard Stopper

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 02:24 AM

Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Quote:
The mechanism allows a pianist to select one of five unique keyboard settings and so customize the settings for a Bach symphony..

Bach didn't write any more symphonies than Pythagoras tuned Steinway grands.

Kees



-> BWV 787-801, Dreistimmige Sinfonien. (Usually a basic part of any serious piano education)

Posted by: Mark R.

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 04:37 AM

Touché, Bernhard.

(That settles it then. Pythagoras must have tuned at least 15 Steinway grands.)
Posted by: Loren D

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 07:02 AM

Yawn.
Posted by: tds

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 08:14 AM

If the balance rail moves forward or backward and the keys go along for the ride, wouldn't this have implications for checking?

For example, if the backchecks were regulated very closely to check as high as possible, wouldn't the hammer tails drag on the backchecks when the balance rail is moved toward the player? Conversely, if the checking is relatively low, wouldn't the hammers barely check at all when the balance rail is moved away from the player?

Perhaps I'm missing something...
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 08:47 AM

The pin need not be the pivot. I am guessing that the rail moves, but not the pins.
Posted by: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 09:10 AM

Another great idea that no manufacturer will ever use. At $10,000, it is priced way out of reach for most people. It makes Scott Jones' springy thingy look far more attractive for the pianos that play like trucks. It's only a few hundred bucks.

I wonder if the Chinese will manage to produce a cheap knock off version of it and get away with it?
Posted by: tds

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 11:24 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
The pin need not be the pivot. I am guessing that the rail moves, but not the pins.


How can that be, since presumably the pins are installed in the rail? Where else could they be?
Posted by: DoelKees

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 11:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Bernhard Stopper
Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Quote:
The mechanism allows a pianist to select one of five unique keyboard settings and so customize the settings for a Bach symphony..

Bach didn't write any more symphonies than Pythagoras tuned Steinway grands.

Kees

-> BWV 787-801, Dreistimmige Sinfonien. (Usually a basic part of any serious piano education)

Those are not symphonies. I assume you know what a symphony is.

Kees
Posted by: Piano World

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 11:44 AM

Originally Posted By: tds
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
The pin need not be the pivot. I am guessing that the rail moves, but not the pins.


How can that be, since presumably the pins are installed in the rail? Where else could they be?


Details and video here:
Stanwood SALA
Posted by: rysowers

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 11:59 AM

David has been displaying his new device at the annual PTG conferences the past couple of years. It appears to work very well. The ability to change action ratio on the fly is pretty amazing. It will be interesting to see how artists react to it.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 12:03 PM

Now the next step is to connect it to a pedal!
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 12:42 PM

Originally Posted By: tds
Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
The pin need not be the pivot. I am guessing that the rail moves, but not the pins.


How can that be, since presumably the pins are installed in the rail? Where else could they be?


Looking at the pictures, I am not sure what is being moved. My point is that the pin is a guide, but the punchings are the pivot.
Posted by: Jake Jackson

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 12:57 PM

Apparently he knows a bit about piano design. For his work on touch weight, he has letters of praise from Garrick Ohlsen and others:

http://www.stanwoodpiano.com/first.htm and

http://www.stanwoodpiano.com/letters.htm
Posted by: Emmery

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 01:19 PM

I'm wondering who's resposibility will it be to get the piano dialed in before the concert. Would it be the tech, the pianist, or would a new employment opportunity open as the dedicated "knob guy"?
Posted by: tds

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 01:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Emmery
I'm wondering who's resposibility will it be to get the piano dialed in before the concert. Would it be the tech, the pianist, or would a new employment opportunity open as the dedicated "knob guy"?


This opens up a veritable minefield of utterly tasteless jokes. Showing uncharacteristic restraint, I've decided not to go there. laugh
Posted by: tds

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 02:10 PM

Quote:
Looking at the pictures, I am not sure what is being moved. My point is that the pin is a guide, but the punchings are the pivot.


I took a close look at the picture on his website and from what I can tell, the leveling punchings remain around the pin as usual, but the bearing "mound", for lack of a better term, is what moves front to back. It looks like these mounds have a slot in them and seem to be fastened to the rear ends of the brown arms which are attached to the moveable rail.

Pretty ingenious, I'd say! I look forward to seeing this in person.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 02:38 PM

Ah, that would be better than what I was suspecting: the balance rail and pin and entire key moving. I was wondering what that could do to blow distance and hence aftertouch when there are divots in the whippen cushion, not to mention problems with dampers! Still with the rail moving and changing the ratio, aftertouch would have to change, too. Right?
Posted by: tds

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/21/11 04:04 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Ah, that would be better than what I was suspecting: the balance rail and pin and entire key moving. I was wondering what that could do to blow distance and hence aftertouch when there are divots in the whippen cushion, not to mention problems with dampers! Still with the rail moving and changing the ratio, aftertouch would have to change, too. Right?


Possibly. However, David claims that none of the regulating parameters change during this process. I will just have to see for myself, I guess. But not for $10,000, I won't! grin
Posted by: CC2 and Chopin lover

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 07:56 AM

Let me shed some light on all of this, since I was fortunate to work with David for five days, two summers ago, on the second prototype of this system, which we installed in my own Steinway M. By the way, the article is incorrect when it states that the first one was installed in a Steinway D at Brandeis University. The first was installed in David's own Mason A, which he displayed at the MARC PTG Conference for the first time in April of 2009. Anyway, none of the original components of the action move or are altered in any way. The movement of the "pivot point" of the key is facilitated by what David likes to call the "gadget" which is a piece that is created by a CNC router with a slot that sits over the balance pin and its paper punchings. On the "gadget", on either side of the slot that surrounds the pin, is attached a piece of felt cut from a felt balance rail punching. The gadget is then attached to the aluminum mechanism that slides it forward and back under the key by means of it's attachment to the knob apparatus just behind the keyslip on the front of the keyframe. The gadget, and the felt attached to it, are the source of the fulcrum point of the key, and the reason that regulation is not affected is because the system needs to move very little in order to get the desired effect. When the gadget/felt move toward the back of the key, as the knob is turned counterclockwise, the front of the key essentially becomes longer, thereby providing a mechanical advantage and giving a lighter touch. The opposite is true as you turn the knobs clockwise and the "gadget" moves forward. As far as who is responsible for setting the knobs, that will always be the player, since they are looking for their "sweet spot". There is a gauge alongside the knob that shows the five different positions on a scrimshaw indicator. The variation of positions is infinite between the first and last points in the range. As far as comparisons with the touchrail system, I have used both and they really work on such different principles that the results are not comparable. I have had many high level concert pianists play my piano with this modification and all have raved about how well it worked, how easy it was to operate, and how different it made the piano feel with each adjustment. For those of you who are bored with all this, (yawn??), I would suggest a more open mind toward the idea of improving the function of the modern piano. As good as the original design might be, folks like Stanwood, Wapin, Wessel Nickel and Gross, Kawai, Steingraber Phoenix, Stuart Pianos, etcetera, have all proven that you don't need to live in the past in order to enjoy a truly wonderful instrument. It is possible to build on the wonderful fundamentals of the original piano design, while improving on some of the inherent shortcomings, to create a 21st century instrument that exceeds the performance of the traditional design. No one seems to "Yawn" when Del speaks of his design changes and concepts. The same open mindedness that accepts and appreciates his genius and efforts should be afforded to others who devote their lives to the improvement of piano design.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 08:13 AM

Here's a PDF of the patent. It makes things much clearer:

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7915509.pdf
Posted by: Numerian

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 09:28 AM

Very nicely said, CC2. I have a Stanwood touch design on my piano and I am playing pieces that were out of my reach before it was installed. It's not simply that the reduction of friction allows me to play bravura passages or concert etudes; it's that I can control the tone even in these sort of passages with such ease. I can see why some well-known professionals have this system on their home piano.

With all the fretting about the death of the acoustic piano, we have to recognize that we live in a time when the piano action is being refined to remarkable levels, and the soundboard itself is now undergoing significant changes.
Posted by: CC2 and Chopin lover

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 09:38 AM

Thanks Numerian. I have also installed numerous Stanwood Precision Touch Design systems in my own, and other's, pianos, as well as the Wapin bridge system, and I agree that they allow the player to do things, and to enjoy their piano, in ways that were not previously possible. The Stanwood SALA system is just one more way to do that.
Posted by: accordeur

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 01:04 PM

I think that this is a very ingenious invention. I just have a hard time understanding why it costs 10,000$. I could probably sell many of these if the price were lower. The system seems very simple both in parts and installation. Heck, I could probably replicate it for a fraction of the cost. Maybe if it becomes really popular, the price will come down.
Posted by: Jim Moy

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 04:16 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Here's a PDF of the patent. It makes things much clearer:

Quite!
Posted by: accordeur

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 04/22/11 04:54 PM

I should add that I am happy for Mr. Stanwood to have secured the patent for his invention. It IS a new invention. Simple and practical. I would love to install this in one of my customer's pianos.

With this system, we could even find a way to level keys in an easier way.

I've been playing the piano since I was 5 years old. Started my apprenticeship as a technician when I was 19. I am now 45.

I would LOVE to try Mr Stanwood's invention.

For funk, jazz, rock, make the action heavy.

Then, when the ballads and lululabys come, you dial it to your taste.

I think, between that, and 7/8 keys, everyone will find their "touch"

Research and development are certainly a reason for the cost now.

I hope Mr. Stanwood can eventually justify selling kits for a decent price, I will be a customer!

Just my 2 cents
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/06/11 04:46 PM

Originally Posted By: CC2 and Chopin lover
Let me shed some light on all of this, since I was fortunate to work with David for five days, two summers ago, on the second prototype of this system, which we installed in my own Steinway M. By the way, the article is incorrect when it states that the first one was installed in a Steinway D at Brandeis University. The first was installed in David's own Mason A, which he displayed at the MARC PTG Conference for the first time in April of 2009. Anyway, none of the original components of the action move or are altered in any way. The movement of the "pivot point" of the key is facilitated by what David likes to call the "gadget" which is a piece that is created by a CNC router with a slot that sits over the balance pin and its paper punchings. On the "gadget", on either side of the slot that surrounds the pin, is attached a piece of felt cut from a felt balance rail punching. The gadget is then attached to the aluminum mechanism that slides it forward and back under the key by means of it's attachment to the knob apparatus just behind the keyslip on the front of the keyframe. The gadget, and the felt attached to it, are the source of the fulcrum point of the key, and the reason that regulation is not affected is because the system needs to move very little in order to get the desired effect. When the gadget/felt move toward the back of the key, as the knob is turned counterclockwise, the front of the key essentially becomes longer, thereby providing a mechanical advantage and giving a lighter touch. The opposite is true as you turn the knobs clockwise and the "gadget" moves forward. As far as who is responsible for setting the knobs, that will always be the player, since they are looking for their "sweet spot". There is a gauge alongside the knob that shows the five different positions on a scrimshaw indicator. The variation of positions is infinite between the first and last points in the range. As far as comparisons with the touchrail system, I have used both and they really work on such different principles that the results are not comparable. I have had many high level concert pianists play my piano with this modification and all have raved about how well it worked, how easy it was to operate, and how different it made the piano feel with each adjustment. For those of you who are bored with all this, (yawn??), I would suggest a more open mind toward the idea of improving the function of the modern piano. As good as the original design might be, folks like Stanwood, Wapin, Wessel Nickel and Gross, Kawai, Steingraber Phoenix, Stuart Pianos, etcetera, have all proven that you don't need to live in the past in order to enjoy a truly wonderful instrument. It is possible to build on the wonderful fundamentals of the original piano design, while improving on some of the inherent shortcomings, to create a 21st century instrument that exceeds the performance of the traditional design. No one seems to "Yawn" when Del speaks of his design changes and concepts. The same open mindedness that accepts and appreciates his genius and efforts should be afforded to others who devote their lives to the improvement of piano design.


I don't know how I missed this!

CC2, beautifully said and I could not state it better. This is absolutely a system that is appreciated by artists, particularly by schools. The result of having one piano with SALA in a performance venue is more like having two or three pianos - at least as far as touch is concerned.

The very first patented SALA system was installed in a Steinway D here at Cunningham Piano Company in April. That piano was immediately delivered to a 9 year old prodigy whose compositions are scheduled to be performed by The Curtis Institute orchestra this coming fall. His teacher, a very well known performer, flipped for the SALA.

Here is this child in performance at 8 years of age, after playing for 9 months:



Here he is after playing 18 months:



Additionally, we recently had a gathering in our restoration facility of some giants in the technical field. They came to look over the installation, to meet and greet, and to discuss all things technical. From left to right:

Joe Cossolini, Art Reblitz partner in crime - you see his hands throughout the Reblitz books.

Kurt Weissman, VP of piano technology here at Cunningham.

David Stanwood, you may have heard the name.

David Andersen, LA dude and great action man

Steve Minkoff, Steinway action expert



For those with interest, we are planning an evening with SALA this coming Fall and it will be here in the Philadelphia area. If you would like more information, please let me know by pm or send me an email.

In my mind the SALA is simple in theory, elegant in design, quite complicated in installation, but truly freeing to an artist and fiscally sensible to a university or music school.

My 2 cents,
Posted by: Roy123

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/07/11 12:57 PM

Who knows if this invention will end up meaning much. One thing is certain, Mr Stanwood is in a self-celebratory mood.

"This is kind of the ultimate invention which draws upon all of my skills. This is the pinnacle of invention — this adjustable leverage action. "

"The light bulbs do not go off without all the dedication, a lot of passion, and trying a variety of options. Then the miracles happen."

"Elegant in design,complex in execution,and simple in function”
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/07/11 04:03 PM

Roy,

All that aside and speaking as a player - it is very sweet.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/07/11 04:33 PM


While I am sure this could be applied in certain concert situations with different artists attending and performing I wonder about the common man who owns a grand piano.

Oh sure there will be the fellow with deep pockets who has to have the latest gadget…..

But really; thinking practically, how much does a full regulation of a grand action/keyboard cost with touch weighting? Certainly not 10K……

How many times can one regulate a grand action, adjust the keyboard before you get to 10K?

Reminds me of the self tuning piano gimmick…..I guess I am just too practical……..I can think of a LOT of things to spend 10K on and the way my piano plays would not be one of them.

Good players adjust their style to whatever instrument they encounter. When I played on the road you should see some of the pianos you have to sit in front of……absolute basket cases…..but you play them anyways….
Posted by: accordeur

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/07/11 07:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

While I am sure this could be applied in certain concert situations with different artists attending and performing I wonder about the common man who owns a grand piano.

Oh sure there will be the fellow with deep pockets who has to have the latest gadget…..

But really; thinking practically, how much does a full regulation of a grand action/keyboard cost with touch weighting? Certainly not 10K……

How many times can one regulate a grand action, adjust the keyboard before you get to 10K?

Reminds me of the self tuning piano gimmick…..I guess I am just too practical……..I can think of a LOT of things to spend 10K on and the way my piano plays would not be one of them.

Good players adjust their style to whatever instrument they encounter. When I played on the road you should see some of the pianos you have to sit in front of……absolute basket cases…..but you play them anyways….


I agree totally. At 10,000$ it is a very small niche market, VERY small.

Make it a kit sold to techs for 1500$, that could work.

Or even better sell it to a manufacturer.

The concept is great I believe.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/07/11 07:29 PM

I agree. This is a great concept.

For something like this I would have developed the item, then after patent, give the entire thing to a manufacturer with a rights agreement of sales percentage for a period of time or forever.

A large manufacturer would shoulder the costs of units and could place these items in every dealership the next week….. then have their shop techs and sales team promote the item for outside sales.
Posted by: accordeur

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/07/11 07:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

I agree. This is a great concept.

For something like this I would have developed the item, then after patent, give the entire thing to a manufacturer with a rights agreement of sales percentage for a period of time or forever.

A large manufacturer would shoulder the costs of units and could place these items in every dealership the next week…..that would then have their shop techs and sales team promote the item for outside sales.


Yes
Posted by: CC2 and Chopin lover

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 07:53 AM

I know David, and you can be sure he has approached major manufacturers with the SALA, as well as the Precision Touch Design. Unfortunately, as is true in a large portion of the piano technician community, there is a preponderance of tunnel vision and being "stuck in the past" among piano manufacturers as well.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 09:19 AM

Originally Posted By: CC2 and Chopin lover
I know David, and you can be sure he has approached major manufacturers with the SALA, as well as the Precision Touch Design. Unfortunately, as is true in a large portion of the piano technician community, there is a preponderance of tunnel vision and being "stuck in the past" among piano manufacturers as well.


Although it is not my place to comment on this, I will say that there is already at least one manufacturer incorporating this system into their manufacturing as an option. And of - course the custom installations will always be available from a small consortium of well prepared installers.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 09:39 AM

Rick, by any chance would this manufacturer be in the Keystone State?
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 09:45 AM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Rick, by any chance would this manufacturer be in the Keystone State?


Jeff,

Actually, yes. But I was referring to a European manufacturer when I made the comment.
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 09:53 AM

you just wait..once a major performing artist has and uses it, will be asked for, even as an option..just like a car..! Stanwoodie action, Steinbuler 7/8 key size..it takes "marketing", yesterday I heard a story on KYW radio on
Cunningham pianos..new craftsman?..well how else would I have known?..now of course this was a news story..but it could have been turned into a commercial ad?
how do we find out about anything these days, but from commercials! smile
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 11:16 AM

Originally Posted By: CC2 and Chopin lover
there is a preponderance of tunnel vision and being "stuck in the past" among piano manufacturers as well.


"Stuck in the past" is not the only factor hindering adoption. There are substantial issues with basic physics in implementing that approach that give people pause, as well. The current state of action touch design is similar to astronomy in the middle ages. There is much to be learned and techniques to be perfected.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/08/11 12:32 PM

I don't see manufacturers stuck in the past at all.

Manufacturing faces certain challenges that, unless you are there in the highest levels of that business, you can not fully appreciate.

The manufacturers I am familiar with are very proactive if there is something they find that needs to be done.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/09/11 10:47 AM

Originally Posted By: CC2 and Chopin lover
I know David, and you can be sure he has approached major manufacturers with the SALA, as well as the Precision Touch Design. Unfortunately, as is true in a large portion of the piano technician community, there is a preponderance of tunnel vision and being "stuck in the past" among piano manufacturers as well.


Leaving aside the issue of tunnel vision, there is no reason for any manufacturer to license the precision touch design. It's a weak patent, and there are many ways for a manufacturer to achieve the identical results without infringement.

As for the SALA patent, the product may be so expensive that most pianos would be noncompetitive in their market segment if the cost of the SALA were added. I haven't really perused the patent, but there may be ways around it as well.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/09/11 11:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Roy123
Originally Posted By: CC2 and Chopin lover
I know David, and you can be sure he has approached major manufacturers with the SALA, as well as the Precision Touch Design. Unfortunately, as is true in a large portion of the piano technician community, there is a preponderance of tunnel vision and being "stuck in the past" among piano manufacturers as well.


Leaving aside the issue of tunnel vision, there is no reason for any manufacturer to license the precision touch design. It's a weak patent, and there are many ways for a manufacturer to achieve the identical results without infringement.

As for the SALA patent, the product may be so expensive that most pianos would be noncompetitive in their market segment if the cost of the SALA were added. I haven't really perused the patent, but there may be ways around it as well.


I've played the SALA prototype. It is "interesting" and certainly required some remarkable ingenuity to design and construct. However, it's actual function is to increase or decrease the key velocity required to achieve a given hammer velocity -- and without compensating for the inherent mis-match between key and hammer travel travel that is necessarily introduced. Whether there is any living pianist on the planet who would find that worthwhile is the question at this point. It might serve as a test bed for action designers to gain valid empirical data about action ratios . . .

Unfortunately, its development seems to emerge from the widespread failure to understand that the piano action is about velocity, not weight.

The history of piano design is littered with patents for various features that were never implemented -- either because of some fatal flaw that the inventor was blind to but others were not or from failure to connect with the public in a way that created market demand. With the passage of time, we will see how this ingenious invention fares in the real world.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/09/11 09:06 PM

I agree with Roy, there are a lot of ways to accomplish the desired results without infringing on Davids patent.

Anyone who has read Davids compilation will realize that the entire beginning reinforces the fundamentals of basic design, friction and regulation, the documenting of and the perspective of those numbers.

Kieth, I don't agree that Davids work is driven by ignorance as you state. Davids new design could, let's say, address the key ratio difference between an average Baldwin Grand and the Current Mason and Hamlin. Both highly regarded actions and neither equated with some misunderstanding of velocity vs weight.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/09/11 09:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Larry Buck
Kieth, I don't agree that Davids work is driven by ignorance as you state. Davids new design could, let's say, address the key ratio difference between an average Baldwin Grand and the Current Mason and Hamlin. Both highly regarded actions and neither equated with some misunderstanding of velocity vs weight.


Often I am good at not being clear. shocked

Of course, I have no way to know what David Stanwood does or does not know -- and I shouldn't have written in a way that implies I do. Thanks for letting me clarify that. In any event-- regardless of the deficiencies in the current state of action touch modification, he certainly is to be applauded for popularizing a valid approach to measure and control friction in piano actions. His writings have certainly been helpful to me.

However, the general fact is that we are currently taking static measurements of weight -- even though that is largely irrelevant to the feel of an action in use. We are currently not able to take direct velocity measurements -- which does directly have to do with what the action feels like in use. Because we are measuring what we can measure -- instead of what should be measured -- actions are generally conceived of and treated as balance devices rather than velocity devices.

My suggestion is that the effect of the invention to vary the rate of key velocity to achieve a given hammer velocity was not well understood and was consistent with the general treatment and "knowledge" of action touch issues.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/09/11 10:39 PM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook

Often I am good at not being clear. shocked
In any event-- regardless of the deficiencies in the current state of action touch modification, he certainly is to be applauded for popularizing a valid approach to measure and control friction in piano actions. His writings have certainly been helpful to me.generally conceived of and treated as balance devices rather than velocity devices.


I don't see any deficiencies in the current state of action touch modification.

Also, the difference between the, let's say, some typical Baldwin grands and the Current Mason and Hamlin Grand action design is exactly a realistic example of two greatly differing "velocity" examples.

Again both highly regarded actions and both very different.

The Baldwin, in the name if increased "velocity" has made some compromises. Those compromises don't work for everyone.

Weight is only one of several measurements needed to evaluate how an action will meet the needs of a particular client. Competent work includes all the considerations.




Posted by: Roy123

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/10/11 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: Larry Buck
Kieth, I don't agree that Davids work is driven by ignorance as you state. Davids new design could, let's say, address the key ratio difference between an average Baldwin Grand and the Current Mason and Hamlin. Both highly regarded actions and neither equated with some misunderstanding of velocity vs weight.


Often I am good at not being clear. shocked

Of course, I have no way to know what David Stanwood does or does not know -- and I shouldn't have written in a way that implies I do. Thanks for letting me clarify that. In any event-- regardless of the deficiencies in the current state of action touch modification, he certainly is to be applauded for popularizing a valid approach to measure and control friction in piano actions. His writings have certainly been helpful to me.

However, the general fact is that we are currently taking static measurements of weight -- even though that is largely irrelevant to the feel of an action in use. We are currently not able to take direct velocity measurements -- which does directly have to do with what the action feels like in use. Because we are measuring what we can measure -- instead of what should be measured -- actions are generally conceived of and treated as balance devices rather than velocity devices.

My suggestion is that the effect of the invention to vary the rate of key velocity to achieve a given hammer velocity was not well understood and was consistent with the general treatment and "knowledge" of action touch issues.


You are correct that static balance is not as important as moment of inertia in determining action feel. The contribution of the action to a piano's sound is principally affected by the hammer's impact velocity, hammer mass, the hammer's nonlinear spring constant, and the hammer's hysteresis--other things (such as scale design) being equal. The force required by the pianist to accelerate the hammer to some velocity is principally determined by the action's moment of inertia as reflected back to the pianist's finger. Hammer mass and action ratio are the principal determinants of this moment of inertia.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/10/11 08:40 PM

A typical and practical challenge would be rebuilding a Baldwin Grand Action. The 1951 Model F I have in my shop right now has a key ratio of 1.75:1 and six 1/2" leads in the entire bass section. Middle C has four 1/2 inch leads and so forth.

Down weight after regulation and friction work still was still averaging 56g.

Now, one might say the actions resulting higher ratio, is desirable. The general reaction to this piano is that it is somewhat heavier to play.

Compare this to the older G7's action I just did. Key ration there was 2.05:1. Even after the heavier hammers, there were only two 1/2" leads and one 3/8" leads in the bass and tapering off towards the treble.

The Baldwin key ratio at 1.75:1 epitomizes the challenge faced in rebuilding to suit the needs of the client. The general wish at times here is that we could move the balance rail, change the key ratio and remove a little lead.

The overall action ratio in the Baldwin is higher than in the Yamaha. Inertia in the Baldwin's key is also higher.

Many very well known and regarded makers use the 2:1 key ratio. This results in lower overall action ratios and no one is complaining about loss of velocity. It also allows for less lead in the keys. This lower inertia is something pianists are finding desirable.

I will admit, there is the discussion that a higher action ratio in conjunction with a lighter hammer yields a more controllable dynamic range for the pianist. This does rely on the pianist having had the training and technique to properly exploits this. These same pianists, due to proper training, are able to generate more velocity in general on any piano.

Davids new patent could be considered a natural "next step" when one has wrestled the the key ratio problem for many years. I am not championing his cause, just pointing out the interesting idea that it is.

It is my opinion that good belly work and scale design yields far greater controllable dynamic range than slight differences in action ratio.
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 07/11/11 03:22 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
I've played the SALA prototype. It is "interesting" and certainly required some remarkable ingenuity to design and construct. However, it's actual function is to increase or decrease the key velocity required to achieve a given hammer velocity -- and without compensating for the inherent mis-match between key and hammer travel travel that is necessarily introduced.


(Text highlighted by me.)

Perhaps the prototype did not compensate, but such compensation is definitely covered in the patent: the key dip is changed by means of a "Compensation Angle", e.g. a modification to the underside of the keys (numbered item 100 in Fig. 9) or to the top surface of the balance rail.
Posted by: Del

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/11/11 01:22 PM

Originally Posted By: CC2 and Chopin lover
It is possible to build on the wonderful fundamentals of the original piano design, while improving on some of the inherent shortcomings, to create a 21st century instrument that exceeds the performance of the traditional design. No one seems to "Yawn" when Del speaks of his design changes and concepts. The same open mindedness that accepts and appreciates his genius and efforts should be afforded to others who devote their lives to the improvement of piano design.

I don’t yawn either when I read of developments such as this. As you say, it is possible to build on the traditional concepts of piano design. And this applies to action design as well as the acoustical design of the instrument. Personally, I find this invention intriguing. I’ve not been able to spend much time studying it as yet, but I hope to in the future.

Will it ever become a mainstream feature? Who knows? There is a long road between invention and production. It will have to be life-tested and run through the wringer of the real world of piano abuse. But this will probably be the easiest part of the journey.

The more formidable task will be convincing manufacturers that they need it. The piano industry is not like most others; design evolution comes slowly and then only as a last resort. Where other industries are constantly looking for ways to evolve their products and come up with new ideas and new features—anything—to entice current owners back into the showrooms, the piano industry seems content with the one-shot sale. Keep making the same thing year after year, decade after decade, century after century and depend almost entirely on the first-time buyer for its existence.

Of course, at $10,000 this mechanism will have a very limited audience. But in production I don’t see it costing more than a few hundred to build. If that. I could be wrong; as I say, I’ve had very limited exposure to the mechanism but it doesn’t seem all that complex if done in production quantities on decent machinery. But we’re taking about an industry that finds it acceptable to use hardboard with a printed paper overlay instead of plywood as a structural backpanel because it saves about $0.47 per piano.

ddf
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/12/11 04:46 AM

I would be interested to know how much increased wear the SALA mechanism puts onto the balance rail punchings, because every time it is adjusted, the levers that carry the keys are moved across the punchings. Balance rail punchings being delicate as they are...
Posted by: Del

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/13/11 02:40 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark R.
I would be interested to know how much increased wear the SALA mechanism puts onto the balance rail punchings, because every time it is adjusted, the levers that carry the keys are moved across the punchings. Balance rail punchings being delicate as they are...

This is the kind of thing only time (and life-testing) will determine.

ddf
Posted by: Thomas Dowell

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/17/11 11:55 PM

I was able to see, (but not play) a piano with this in it at the PTG Convention. I am not a great pianist by any means, but watched some other technicians who were higher level pianists (higher than me at least) play, and it was interesting to see how they reacted to different settings. One gentleman felt that the piano set on its lightest ratio was still "too light", but when the ratio was increased, aka the touch weight actually went up, the better response to his touch made the piano feel lighter, at least to him. It seems that for high level pianists, this would really allow them to have a completely custom feel for their piano.

The action was being used to demonstrate action rebuilding techniques during the convention, I think, as the piano was privately owned by a customer of Kent Swafford's. It was an incredible Steinway D, rebuilt by Ron Nossaman. I thought it was perhaps the best sounding piano at the convention, though it never was in the exhibit hall, but in classrooms being used for demonstrations.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/18/11 04:46 PM

The piano was one of the most impressive I've ever seen.

I played it. My brother, a pianist/music professor/tuner played it and I heard several other folk playing it. Sound quality, dynamic range . . . . WOW!!

The SALA seemed a bit strange. Not sure if it really accomplishes anything useful.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/18/11 10:00 PM

I played the piano quite a bit - the SALA definitely has a dramatic effect on the touch. A small flat knob on the front of the keyframe makes the adjustment. The bass can be adjusted differently then the treble so that you can taper the touch if you like. A little scale on the keyframe tells you what the setting is: 1-5, 5 being the heaviest. My own preference was for the lightest setting possible.

Thanks to Kent Swafford, David Andersen, and David Stanwood for bringing this interesting new instrument to the conference. Being able chat with these guys face to face is always a privilege and a pleasure. By the way the piano was brought over from University of Missouri- Kansas City.

Wonderful instrument.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/19/11 12:58 AM

Quote:
the SALA definitely has a dramatic effect on the touch


Not a universal assessment -- neither from the people at the convention that tried it nor, I understand, from the pianists at the venue where it is located. Certainly from the standpoint of basic physics, a given output velocity will always require the same energy input, no matter how it is sliced and diced.

Perhaps one reason for the discrepancy in perception has to do with the existence of unaccounted variables that are not detected in what are currently standard methods of action analysis. Some people may be sensitive to other variables that are being manipulated while others may not be.

Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/19/11 07:48 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Quote:
the SALA definitely has a dramatic effect on the touch


Not a universal assessment -- neither from the people at the convention that tried it nor, I understand, from the pianists at the venue where it is located. Certainly from the standpoint of basic physics, a given output velocity will always require the same energy input, no matter how it is sliced and diced.

Perhaps one reason for the discrepancy in perception has to do with the existence of unaccounted variables that are not detected in what are currently standard methods of action analysis. Some people may be sensitive to other variables that are being manipulated while others may not be.



Kieth,

Perhaps you would be willing to generously elaborate on your statement, which, by itself, is nothing more than a vague assertion that you yourself don't see the value.

Your opposing technical statements are rather sophomoric and more "salesman like".

Manufacturers use differing key ratios to accomplish their feel in their actions. The public definitely demonstrates their preference.

If your statement was true, then there would be no point in making anything different. This would be supported by the public saying they felt no usable differences between various manufacturers actions.

Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/19/11 07:59 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
....

Certainly from the standpoint of basic physics, a given output velocity will always require the same energy input, no matter how it is sliced and diced.

.....


So? Bicycles that have more than one gear ratio are still usually prefered.
Posted by: David Andersen

Re: David Stanwood Patent - 07/19/11 11:09 AM

"Experience always replaces belief."

So---if you haven't put your hands on a SALA-equipped piano, please refrain from speculative fantasy.

I have seen over two dozen high-level players react to the SALA device in person. In each case there was the same reaction: "wow."

On last Wednesday, in Los Angeles, one of the most famous classical artists in the world played my SALA-fied Steinway D. He came from China to do two performances at the Hollywood Bowl, and he used my piano to record a PSA for the World Wildlife Fund.

He approved of the piano's tone and touch BEFORE the SALA device was shown to him. After he was shown it, he requested it to be set "lighter."
After it was set on the lightest setting, he started playing, smiled, and played all the way through his arrangement of "Ave Maria---" an eight-minute private concert for the technician (who was, understandably, choking back sobs a portion of that time.)

When he was done, he looked up, beaming, and said "Wow. Can this be done to any piano?"

Earlier in the session, in talking with the technician, the artist had said that differences in the touch of the actions he performed on were "the bane of my existence." Is there a need, or a desire, for something like SALA for this artist?

Yes. Everything we do as techs is for the player, for the artist. Mr. Stanwood and I have repeatedly seen artists get truly excited over the possibility of customizing piano touch in real time, and that is our real motivation.

Regarding price: there is a massive work load to create a custom SALA device and then install it in an excellent and custom way. All the parts of SALA are the finest available, either manufactured or custom. We are just beginning; the market will determine the eventual price; trust me when I say
the effort involved in producing the final installed product is considerable.

A huge thank-you to Kent Swofford, who co-rebuilt the D in Kansas City
(with Ron Nossaman) and installed the SALA device in it with mentoring and support form Mr. Stanwood. This instrument is the performance piano
for the UMKC Conservatory of Music. The leadership there, and Mr. Swofford, were fine with the installed price of SALA; there was no price pushback. They saw value.....

Full disclosure: I am a partner with Mr. Stanwood in SALA Pianos, Inc.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: David Stanwood Patent (SALA) - 04/15/12 07:16 AM

Recently I spent some time playing a SALA equipped, newly rebuilt Steinway C, and I thought it was extraordinary!

While I played, I closed my eyes while the installing technician changed settings. It was quite apparent when this was happening, and it made a tremendous difference in feel.

Two other things not mentioned in the posts above:

Since there are two knobs that move the fulcrum points on each side of the keyframe, it is possible to have one side play lighter or heavier than the other, along with the ability to dial in many shades in between.

The tone changes as the settings are changed! I love this aspect of SALA, and it was an unexpected experience that I think adds a great deal of versatility and flexibility to the modification.

It's really quite beautiful and elegant, and fascinating to experiment with. As far as cost, I believe that the time and effort involved for implementation of the system justifies the price. Mr. Stanwood has my complete respect for this achievement, and I can see this becoming a sought-after mod for certain pianos in high visibilty performance venues, or for those pianists that desire greater flexibility for their repertoire or tonal palette. Very impressive!

Edit: just noticed that Ryan Sowers mentioned the ability to adjust both ends...