Hammer suggestions: modern board

Posted by: BoseEric

Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/25/12 02:33 PM

Let's pretend for a minute.

Let's pretend I have a new, high quality Chinese 5'7" or so grand with a modern (as opposed to traditional) soundboard. And lets pretend the piano sounds and feels quite good, not just to me but to many others as well. This imaginary piano has chinese made hammers that use high quality brand name felt and everything works quite well, of course assuming proper prep.

Now, let's pretend I, like a lot of piano people, am interested in seeing if even more might be brought out by a different set of hammers. More what, you say? I don't know, maybe nothing, and then again, maybe something. Maybe more of an oak nose with currant undertones ... who knows!

So, with that scenario and assuming I don't have buckets of money to spend on ordering hammers and shanks from a variety of vendors, what are some hammer brand suggestions you who are experienced with the fantastically wide variety of quality hammers available today might suggest. Yes, I'm talking about hammers from Ray Negron, and Serge Harel and Melanie Brooks, among others. Hopefully Del will read this as well.

To me the primary operative traits include the modern soundboard, solid beech bridges and duplex scaling.

Thanks in advance

Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/25/12 11:19 PM

I have been doing exactly this kind of thing-- upgrading new pianos using premium components. The results have made the owners of Boston, Kawai, Baldwin, Yamaha and Steinway pianos ecstatic. One comment from a customer with a new Kawai RX-6 that was recently upgraded . . . "Now I don't have to get a Bosendorfer!"

The specifics of each upgrade varies -- whether with Wapin or other bridge mods, premium bass strings, various WN&G components, soundboard jiggery of one sort or another, rescaling, etc. -- but one element is consistently part of each upgrade: premium high-energy hammers -- whether Cadenza or Classical West. The improvement is not subtle.

Probably the best "bang for the buck" for you would be new premium high-energy hammers with WN&G shanks/flanges. The scale is probably not bad. But production hammers just don't cut it -- no matter whose felt is in them.

If you have more specific questions, please feel free to send a PM.
Posted by: Dale Fox

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/26/12 02:05 AM

By modern do you mean rib crowned, decreasing radius ribs, fairly flexible and lightly loaded? With a redesigned (from traditional) sound board with a cutoff bar and perhaps a floated bass? If so, you need something cold pressed and reasonable light, certainly nothing dense. Depending on the sound you want and the SB characteristics, either Bacon,Wurzen or Weickert felt on a Ronsen hammers or perhaps Isaac hammers, though I'm much more familiar working with Ronsen so can't really recommend what I don't normally use.

I agree with Keith an the WNG shanks in any case.

I'm not sure why you included Beech bridges or duplex scaling as either necessary or desirable. I see no advantage in beech over other hardwood (ie.maple) and I have no love of duplex scaling where the desired/designed result/purpose is to produce some specific harmonic content. Perhaps you could elucidate on your reasoning?
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/26/12 03:45 AM

If by modern you mean multi laminated board, I am afraid hammer change will not make so large improvment.

About rib crowned, I believe that Fazioli have not rib crowned boards, for instance, so it may not be an absolutely "modern" option ...

Do some Chinese build grands have a floating bass soundboard, or are only Föester present this feature ?
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 09:03 AM

Thanks for the response.

By modern I mean laminated. Laminated has negative connotations that are not in keeping with the modern day quality and advantages.

I have been philosophically opposed to WNG shanks. I believe that shank flex is critical to tone color. A number of technicians whom I respect use them, so I'm keeping an open mind. But I do believe there is an avenue of tonal control at a high playing level that is lost. I'm assuming the primary tonal advantage is power?

I included the bridge material and scaling because it is in the current design. I want to explore options that don't change the basic design and are relatively easy to install.

There are not floating bass designs coming from China that I am aware of. I know the Forster design and admire it greatly.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 10:07 AM

hi I have similar "philosophy" but also keep an open mind/ear.

shank flex is also part of the design when we link that with the kind of rake angle find in differnt pianos (or different sections of one piano)

trying to have a theoretical 90 deg at impact (without shank flex) is part of the rake angle choice, but due to the flex and oscillations of the head, the final impact at moderate speed may differ than what exists on the sketch, unless very rigid shanks are used.

The wood is also filtering the impact tone and the plate "ping" , hence that "tuning" of the shanks once the heads are glued (on a good grand one can hear a real xylophone showing how well the shanks have been selected, then scraped to produce an even resonance

I admit this to be far less important than the elasticity of the shank... The instrument have anyway its own limitation in terms of dynamics, so if the idea is to have all the tone immediately, indeed whatever works will be OK, but I believe we are loosing day after day some parameters of the tone that I rarely hear in modern pianos, particularly the less expensive ones ...
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 01:17 PM

Quote:
I have been philosophically opposed to WNG shanks. I believe that shank flex is critical to tone color. A number of technicians whom I respect use them, so I'm keeping an open mind. But I do believe there is an avenue of tonal control at a high playing level that is lost. I'm assuming the primary tonal advantage is power?


Flex is the cause of latency which is a delay in return of power and establishes an ultimate ceiling on available power. Imagine a "hammershank" made of a flat metal spring: You would get keystroke completed before the hammer arrived at the string. In fact, on a hard blow the key would be bottomed out before the hammer left its starting position. We all recognize this latency (or saturation - to use a popular but incorrect term) is bad in the long keys of a grand -- where it is common to have the key bottom out before the hammer leaves its rest. Why do we think it is good to introduce more latency in the system by having the hammershanks flex also?

Now imagine that the flex or springiness of the hammershank varies from note to note. That is actually the reality. Wood shanks vary in their flexibility from note to note, introducing an erratic variability that can't really be dealt with by regulation and voicing -- although we attempt to do the best we can.

Just look at the grain on any set of hammershanks and note their variability. Why would anyone suppose that different grain would give the same response?

There was another whole thread about shank centerpin bushings relation to greater tonal clarity. Synthetic materials provide greater rigidity which means clearer tone and at the same time, lower friction.

Piano technology is a reality-based activity. Philosophy just doesn't cut it. I invite you to experience the reality of what the WN&G parts do by trying them for yourself -- or trying someone else's installation.

After one trial of the WN&G shanks/flanges, I determined I would never again use wood. Now, after multiple installations, I see that initial decision validated multiple times. There is no aspect in which wood is superior to the synthetic components.
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 01:31 PM

Wood is organic, beautiful, and resonant. Plastic is....well, it's plastic.
Posted by: Zeno Wood

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 02:53 PM

What about when wood isn't organic, beautiful, or resonant? Anyway, since we're talking about using wood for shanks, do you want it to be resonant?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 02:53 PM

If Renner was of the opinion that composite shanks and parts were an improvement they would be using them in the actions they build and have been building since 1882.

Renner, the company, and what they build, represent a typical example of the German precision engineering industry as it is acknowledged throughout the world.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 03:10 PM

Quote:
Flex is the cause of latency which is a delay in return of power and establishes an ultimate ceiling on available power.


I find it odd that so many people complain about pianos being too loud, and yet some technicians still think that they need to get more power out of them.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 04:14 PM

You're sounding a little dogmatic, Keith, which especially in an election year makes me nervous.

The inherent variability in materials is what makes pianos so special and unique. You could build a piano entirely out of materials with no variability but I am quite sure the results would be unsatisfactory.

A shank flexes under a hard blow, changing the strikepoint slightly. I know from experience that some pianists are aware of this tonal variation and use it intentionally, others more intuitively. Some pianos are great, some are average, some are awful. It is good to make awful ones better, but sometimes the baby can indeed be thrown out with the bathwater. Power is not the only desirable characteristic in piano tone.

I have some slight experience with WNG. I have no problem with any of it, except the concept of a completely stiff shank.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 04:54 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
...A shank flexes under a hard blow, changing the strikepoint slightly. I know from experience that some pianists are aware of this tonal variation and use it intentionally, others more intuitively. ...
Yes, shanks flex. However, there are divergent opinions as to which direction they are flexing at point of hammer impact. Obviously, the shank first bends down under the head's inertia. This would move the strike point further from the agraffe. Another opinion maintains that after the initial bending, by the time the hammer head reaches the string, the the shank has sprung back other way (up) and the hammer now contacts the string in a point which is closer top the agraffe.

Any definitive answer on that?

Can anyone give a link to high speed video of a grand action under a heavy blow?
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 05:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Zeno Wood
What about when wood isn't organic, beautiful, or resonant? Anyway, since we're talking about using wood for shanks, do you want it to be resonant?


Why not? The beauty of playing an acoustic piano is that the sound comes from the entire instrument.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 07:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Supply

Can anyone give a link to high speed video of a grand action under a heavy blow?


WNG has a high speed vid of a wooden and composite shank on its technicians' website.

https://www.wessellnickelandgross.com/index.php/documentation
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 07:57 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
You're sounding a little dogmatic, Keith, which especially in an election year makes me nervous.

The inherent variability in materials is what makes pianos so special and unique. You could build a piano entirely out of materials with no variability but I am quite sure the results would be unsatisfactory.

A shank flexes under a hard blow, changing the strikepoint slightly. I know from experience that some pianists are aware of this tonal variation and use it intentionally, others more intuitively. Some pianos are great, some are average, some are awful. It is good to make awful ones better, but sometimes the baby can indeed be thrown out with the bathwater. Power is not the only desirable characteristic in piano tone.

I have some slight experience with WNG. I have no problem with any of it, except the concept of a completely stiff shank.


I can assure I'm not running for office. laugh

Flex does exist in the carbon fiber shanks. It is just less and what there is, is more consistent.
Despite the opinions of some musicians to the contrary, it is not possible for musicians to use flex of wooden shanks in a predictable basis because it is erratic and unpredictable from note to note.

Speaking of erratic flex, one thing you notice is the difference in string marks on a hammer mounted to a CF shank. It's like a laser cut. On a conventional shank, string cuts are what I call "shadowed" -- that is, not clearly defined and always wider than the diameter of the string. This is due to the fact (seen in slo-mo video) that hammers on wooden shanks not only "whip" back and forth but also side to side in a complex variety of oscillations. No one looking at those kinds of videos can say it is a good thing. Especially when there is so much effort expended to locate the striking point of the hammer.

I like the idea of "natural" for soundboard and other tone producing elements. Although my violinist wife has heard good sounding carbon fiber violins and cellos, and I have heard pianos with cf boards, I remain skeptical. At least, I haven't heard anything I consider ready for prime time.

But the piano action is a machine, pure and simple. As such, there really is no debate about how to achieve efficiency and consistency note to note over time and through climate cycles. There is nothing specific about wood that commends its use in meeting the design criteria of an action machine except that it has been the least-bad of what had traditionally been available. There are now materials which meet the criteria of an action designer more completely.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 09:46 PM

I have seen hammers in old pianos where the string grooves are 3/16" deep or more, and the hammers always hit in the same spot. If they did not, the felt between the grooves would get pushed over, and the note would sound much different. You can have enough accuracy with wooden parts.

I think that if you lined up 10 pianos identical except that half had wooden parts and the other half had some other material, there is very little chance that someone listening to them could hear the difference.
Posted by: Sparky McBiff

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:04 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
Let's pretend for a minute.

Let's pretend I have a new, high quality Chinese 5'7" or so grand with a modern (as opposed to traditional) soundboard. And lets pretend the piano sounds and feels quite good, not just to me but to many others as well. This imaginary piano has chinese made hammers that use high quality brand name felt and everything works quite well, of course assuming proper prep.

Now, let's pretend I, like a lot of piano people, am interested in seeing if even more might be brought out by a different set of hammers. More what, you say? I don't know, maybe nothing, and then again, maybe something. Maybe more of an oak nose with currant undertones ... who knows!

So, with that scenario and assuming I don't have buckets of money to spend on ordering hammers and shanks from a variety of vendors, what are some hammer brand suggestions you who are experienced with the fantastically wide variety of quality hammers available today might suggest. Yes, I'm talking about hammers from Ray Negron, and Serge Harel and Melanie Brooks, among others. Hopefully Del will read this as well.

To me the primary operative traits include the modern soundboard, solid beech bridges and duplex scaling.

Thanks in advance



Thank you for asking this exact question because I had been thinking about asking the exact same thing.

I am by no means an accomplished player and my Hailun 198 is more than enough for me but I certainly wouldn't be averse to exploring the option of investing in some exceptional hammers if I think it will make a big difference with the piano.

I've come to accept that I will probably never splurge on a +7 ft piano but I am very open into seeing how much better I can make my piano sound, if possible.

I'm not sure what a full set of hammers could set me back but I'm single with no kids (only birds) so I do have the ability to splurge on frivolous things on occasion if I so choose.

I will be following this thread closely.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:10 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB

I think that if you lined up 10 pianos identical except that half had wooden parts and the other half had some other material, there is very little chance that someone listening to them could hear the difference.


Maybe. But I can always tell when I play one.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:10 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
I have seen hammers in old pianos where the string grooves are 3/16" deep or more, and the hammers always hit in the same spot. If they did not, the felt between the grooves would get pushed over, and the note would sound much different. You can have enough accuracy with wooden parts.

I think that if you lined up 10 pianos identical except that half had wooden parts and the other half had some other material, there is very little chance that someone listening to them could hear the difference.


No, if you go back and measure those grooves, you WILL find that they are wider than the diameter of the strings. They will NOT have the same appearance as if they had WN&G shanks.

Experience trumps thinking. I have been working on pianos almost 50 years now and have learned to be very critical of "new ideas" although in principle I welcome them. But when I have something verified by experience I have to change my thinking.

In the case of the WNG shanks and flanges (also capstans) I have experienced in multiple instances their superior performance and my customers notice, too. I am putting synthetic parts on new pianos and there is clearly a difference. Many university techs are using them and won't go back.

We had an interesting event at a recent meeting of our PTG chapter. It was hosted by the local S&S dealer and he was asking about a model "M" he was having rebuilt. As long as people were there together, he asked whether he should use the wooden shanks or the CF. It was an unprepared, off the cuff question with no coaching or beforehand preparation. All seven of the members present independently indicated they would install WN&G parts on the piano in question. This is the level of acceptance that is happening with people with direct experience.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Sparky McBiff

Thank you for asking this exact question because I had been thinking about asking the exact same thing.

I am by no means an accomplished player and my Hailun 198 is more than enough for me but I certainly wouldn't be averse to exploring the option of investing in some exceptional hammers if I think it will make a big difference with the piano.

I've come to accept that I will probably never splurge on a +7 ft piano but I am very open into seeing how much better I can make my piano sound, if possible.

I'm not sure what a full set of hammers could set me back but I'm single with no kids (only birds) so I do have the ability to splurge on frivolous things on occasion if I so choose.

I will be following this thread closely.


I wouldn't for a Hailun. The hammers are "cold pressed", much like some of these after market hammers. The Samick 140cm grand I tuned the other day, on the other hand....

Replacing a set of hammers will cost you well over a grand. Probably closer to two grand. Maybe more. It's hard to say because technicians have different pricing formulas.
Posted by: Sparky McBiff

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:28 PM

I appreciate the information 986.

I've been told that my 198 has Abel hammers but if the consensus seems to be that any aftermarket hammers wouldn't make much of a difference, certainly not enough to justify the cost, then I'll probably just save my money.

Thanks.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:35 PM

Beethoven986....question, why not a Hailun?
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:53 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Sparky McBiff

Thank you for asking this exact question because I had been thinking about asking the exact same thing.

I am by no means an accomplished player and my Hailun 198 is more than enough for me but I certainly wouldn't be averse to exploring the option of investing in some exceptional hammers if I think it will make a big difference with the piano.

I've come to accept that I will probably never splurge on a +7 ft piano but I am very open into seeing how much better I can make my piano sound, if possible.

I'm not sure what a full set of hammers could set me back but I'm single with no kids (only birds) so I do have the ability to splurge on frivolous things on occasion if I so choose.

I will be following this thread closely.


I wouldn't for a Hailun. The hammers are "cold pressed", much like some of these after market hammers. The Samick 140cm grand I tuned the other day, on the other hand....

Replacing a set of hammers will cost you well over a grand. Probably closer to two grand. Maybe more. It's hard to say because technicians have different pricing formulas.


A set of premium hammers will definitely make a major difference. There's a lot more to it than hot or cold pressing. As I mentioned earlier, this is what I do -- upgrade new pianos for better performance. (Just like upgrading a stock car with better tires, brakes, engine, etc. or a computer with more memory, etc.)

Piano makers have successfully developed the mythology that their piano is best as delivered from the factory -- even to the idea that if all X,000 parts don't have their brand name on the product that the piano is less than what it was.

This is rubbish. For one example, there are not enough premium hammers produced in the world to supply even one significant manufacturer. Low-production-volume, custom or semi-custom components are available for those who wish to enjoy greater performance from their instruments. Someone with technical know-how can implement an upgrade strategy for your particular instrument, goals and budget.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Sparky McBiff
I appreciate the information 986.

I've been told that my 198 has Abel hammers but if the consensus seems to be that any aftermarket hammers wouldn't make much of a difference, certainly not enough to justify the cost, then I'll probably just save my money.Thanks.



That is one of the difficulties with the internet. How can someone sort out which is the correct answer when there are multiple and differing responses?

Consensus may be a false approach. The consensus of people actually doing upgrades is that there is significant merit to be enjoyed. The opinions of people not actually doing that kind of work shouldn't really matter.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/28/12 11:58 PM

Most pianos can be significantly upgraded without replacing hammers or any other parts by a good enough tech. Often it is not worth doing, but replacing parts is even more expensive.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 12:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Sparky McBiff
I appreciate the information 986.

I've been told that my 198 has Abel hammers but if the consensus seems to be that any aftermarket hammers wouldn't make much of a difference, certainly not enough to justify the cost, then I'll probably just save my money.

Thanks.


I couldn't tell you where they're made, but the process is more important than where they're from. Hailun uses the so called "cold pressed" hammer, which is more resilient than your typical mass produced hammer, and thus produces a better tone (at least it should). In this case, I think replacement would be a waste of money; sure, (insert aftermarket hammer here) might be "better", but you won't see the same kind of transformation that you'd see when replacing a set of Yamaha or Renner hammers with the same set.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 12:05 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Most pianos can be significantly upgraded without replacing hammers or any other parts by a good enough tech. Often it is not worth doing, but replacing parts is even more expensive.


Not at all what I'm talking about. Pianos can indeed be improved by knowledgeable techs. A day of a tech performing TLC on a piano can make a huge improvement. I have done that and continue to do that. I know what kinds of benefits can be realized with that approach.

I also know that you can't turn a mid-grade piano into a premium instrument with TLC tweaking.

The kinds of upgrades I'm speaking about are order-of-magnitude differences that actually take the instrument up to another level of existence. As I quoted earlier, the RX6 owner said "Now I don't have to get a Bosendorfer." I had already done the TLC stuff and he noticed that. The upgrade with high-performance action components, premium high-energy hammers and Wapin bridge modification was something he recognized as taking his piano into a whole different realm of performance.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 12:50 AM

Let me add to the experience of your client Keith......I have a 1927 M&H RBB Grand Piano that was transformed into an incredible sounding piano by changing to the "Isaac Profundo" Bass Strings, adding the Wapin Bridge Modification, and installing a high-performance set of the Isaac "Classical West" Hammers.

There is no discussion, no theories etc as to what made this remarkable difference...those 3 items, together, are what transformed my M&H into one very fine sounding Grand Piano.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 12:55 AM

Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Beethoven986....question, why not a Hailun?


Because I don't think the hammers are bad enough to warrant replacing.
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 01:25 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Beethoven986....question, why not a Hailun?


Because I don't think the hammers are bad enough to warrant replacing.


What I'm talking about is not about replacing "bad" hammers. I'm throwing away good hammers on new pianos -- to the delight of customers who are enjoying the radical improvement.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 01:59 AM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Beethoven986....question, why not a Hailun?


Because I don't think the hammers are bad enough to warrant replacing.


What I'm talking about is not about replacing "bad" hammers. I'm throwing away good hammers on new pianos -- to the delight of customers who are enjoying the radical improvement.


Oh, I know; you are talking about replacing "bad" hammers, they just happen to be new wink There are certainly pianos that I'd be inclined to do this on (Kawai, Samick, anything with Renner Blues, and certain Abels, etc). I just don't think the hammers that Hailun uses fall into this category.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 02:40 PM

I find it interesting that there has not been any kind of consensus suggestion for the specifics of this particular piano. Unfortunately (at least for me) I think many techs experienced with a wide variety of hammers are not participating.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 03:05 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
I find it interesting that there has not been any kind of consensus suggestion for the specifics of this particular piano. Unfortunately (at least for me) I think many techs experienced with a wide variety of hammers are not participating.


You haven't given us a specific piano. Also, there aren't an inordinate number of high end hammer choices. You can get Renner Blue Points, Abel Naturals, any of the three Ronsen types, or one of the two Isaac types. The first two are kind of hard out of the box; wouldn't be my preference, but the Ravenscroft folks use the Blue Points and they sound lovely on their pianos, so it can be done. Beyond that, I suggest acquiring samples of the Ronsen and Isaac hammers and testing them on sample notes in the piano and pick the one that matches closest to your taste.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 03:50 PM

Have a question....how would any type of hammer react differently on a new soundboard as opposed to an old, working soundboard?
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 03:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Have a question....how would any type of hammer react differently on a new soundboard as opposed to an old, working soundboard?


There are way too many variables, here.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 04:42 PM

Perhaps a tech can add some info?

What are some of the most important variables?
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 04:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Perhaps a tech can add some info?

What are some of the most important variables?


I am a tech and I've done full set hammer replacement, and touchweight analysis/correction for that matter, and seen countless before and afters that were done by others.

The mechanical impedance of the soundboard, and the string scale are important. And while the string scale won't change from piano to piano of the same model (or shouldn't), the impedance is variable, especially as the piano ages. How it changes over time will partly be determined by how the board was originally constructed. Generally speaking, lighter, softer hammers for lighter and more flexible boards, and vice versa. Selecting the wrong type of hammer will either make the piano sound strident, or lacking in power. To be sure, this is grossly over simplifying things. One could write a book about this. If you want a more in depth answer, I suggest asking Del.
Posted by: Grandpianoman

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 05:05 PM

Sorry, I did not know you were a tech...thanks for the info.

Can one surmise then, that a well made and designed high-performance hammer would sound good on an old working soundboard as well as a new soundboard?

Keith Atkins experience with his clients new pianos, and my experience with an 80+ year old soundboard would seem to bear this out, no?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 05:28 PM

Stringing scales do change from piano to piano of the same model.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 05:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Sorry, I did not know you were a tech...thanks for the info.


With all the junk in my signature, it's easily missed. No worries.

Originally Posted By: Grandpianoman
Can one surmise then, that a well made and designed high-performance hammer would sound good on an old working soundboard as well as a new soundboard?

Keith Atkins experience with his clients new pianos, and my experience with an 80+ year old soundboard would seem to bear this out, no?


Sure, it's definitely possible. My final project at school was an action overhaul on a very old Canadian Heintzman. Even with the old, heavily grooved hammers, the piano sounded decent. With new key tops, bushings, regulation, and Ronsen Bacon felt hammers, it sounded better than the much newer Yamahas and Kawais in the practice rooms.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 05:44 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
My final project at school was an action overhaul on a very old Canadian Heintzman. Even with the old, heavily grooved hammers, the piano sounded decent.


I wonder if you noticed. All of the Heintzman & Co models were fitted with hammer sets from Bohne & Co that was Weikert felt.

Bohne & Co Est. 1891 manufactured hammers in Canada until 1964.They are still in operation but are now known as Bohne Spring LTD.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 05:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
My final project at school was an action overhaul on a very old Canadian Heintzman. Even with the old, heavily grooved hammers, the piano sounded decent.


I wonder if you noticed. All of the Heintzman & Co models were fitted with hammer sets from Bohne & Co that was Weikert felt.

Bohne & Co Est. 1891 manufactured hammers in Canada until 1964.They are still in operation but are now known as Bohne Spring LTD.


I'm not entirely confident that the hammers were original to the piano because the hang job was not of a quality I'd associate with Heintzman. The shanks were definitely original, though.
Posted by: acortot

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/29/12 06:06 PM

Oddly, many premium pianos in the early 1800's used elastic wood for the hammer-shanks.

They went to a lot of trouble to do so and stopped primarily because of broken shanks when pianos became heavy and pianists more forceful

If you look at how a golf club is built, it has a flexible shank, for a good reason.
Posted by: Del

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/30/12 10:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Kamin
If by modern you mean multi laminated board, I am afraid hammer change will not make so large improvment.

About rib crowned, I believe that Fazioli have not rib crowned boards, for instance, so it may not be an absolutely "modern" option ...

Do some Chinese build grands have a floating bass soundboard, or are only Föester present this feature ?

Four Young Chang/Weber grands of my design (the 150, 157, 175 and 185) have floating soundboards in the bass section as do all of the new verticals.

And don't sell the multi-laminated soundboard short. We have built high-performance prototype pianos using carefully designed laminated soundboard panels that perform at least as well as their counterparts using solid spruce panels.

ddf
Posted by: Del

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/30/12 10:47 AM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
By modern I mean laminated. Laminated has negative connotations that are not in keeping with the modern day quality and advantages.

I have been philosophically opposed to WNG shanks. I believe that shank flex is critical to tone color. A number of technicians whom I respect use them, so I'm keeping an open mind. But I do believe there is an avenue of tonal control at a high playing level that is lost. I'm assuming the primary tonal advantage is power?

I included the bridge material and scaling because it is in the current design. I want to explore options that don't change the basic design and are relatively easy to install.

There are not floating bass designs coming from China that I am aware of. I know the Forster design and admire it greatly.

Unless it is specifically designed to give good, broad-spectrum response—most are not—laminated soundboard panels tend to be a bit stiffer than comparable solid spruce panels. At least in some directions.

You’ve not told us what the scale tensions are like; it does make a difference. But in general these boards do not respond well to overly hard hammers. My first choice would be something like a Ronsen hammer pressed with Weikert felt. Large or small depending on the size and scaling of the piano.

As to floating soundboards; the four smaller new Young Chang/Weber grands and all of the new Young Chang/Weber uprights use floating soundboard systems. All of these—except for the Albert Weber line which is made in Korea—are made in China.

ddf
Posted by: Del

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/30/12 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
A shank flexes under a hard blow, changing the strikepoint slightly. I know from experience that some pianists are aware of this tonal variation and use it intentionally, others more intuitively. Some pianos are great, some are average, some are awful. It is good to make awful ones better, but sometimes the baby can indeed be thrown out with the bathwater. Power is not the only desirable characteristic in piano tone.

Quite right. I’m assuming, since the hypothetical piano has a laminated soundboard panel, it is a relatively small one. (Not many pianos above about 180 cm or so have laminated soundboard panels.) This being the case I’d not worry about power—in the intended environment power will take care of itself—and concentrate on timbral palette. Hence my choice of the smallest practical cold-pressed hammer using a felt known for its excellent resilient qualities.

ddf
Posted by: kpembrook

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 10/31/12 09:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Del

You’ve not told us what the scale tensions are like; it does make a difference. But in general these boards do not respond well to overly hard hammers.
ddf


And here I'll introduce my piano hammer "koan" (Buddhist thought-teaser riddle):

If a brick is hard and a pillow is soft, what is a basketball?

In almost all discussions of hammer qualities the parameters are limited to only two dimensions: mass and hardness. But, to quote Yoda, there is another: . . .. . . . Elasticity.

This parameter is either completely ignored or confounded with the hard/soft dimension.

This is not to disagree that various technicians have found particular hammer sets that have worked better or worse in given situations. But the conclusions about hard/soft and high/low mass may be improperly drawn since elasticity can affect how mass and hardness contribute to hammer function in a similar fashion to how mass, speaking length and tension interact in string scaling.

Moving forward I hope to see this variable recognized and accounted for in ways that it has not heretofore.
Posted by: Del

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 11/01/12 01:40 PM

Originally Posted By: kpembrook
[quote=Del]And here I'll introduce my piano hammer "koan" (Buddhist thought-teaser riddle):

If a brick is hard and a pillow is soft, what is a basketball?

In almost all discussions of hammer qualities the parameters are limited to only two dimensions: mass and hardness. But, to quote Yoda, there is another: . . .. . . . Elasticity.

This parameter is either completely ignored or confounded with the hard/soft dimension.

This is not to disagree that various technicians have found particular hammer sets that have worked better or worse in given situations. But the conclusions about hard/soft and high/low mass may be improperly drawn since elasticity can affect how mass and hardness contribute to hammer function in a similar fashion to how mass, speaking length and tension interact in string scaling.

Moving forward I hope to see this variable recognized and accounted for in ways that it has not heretofore.

Elasticity, or hammer resilience has been recognized for at least a century. And it has been written about in some depth by many researchers and authors. In the book, Piano Tone Building there is a discussion on the difficulty of measuring and quantifying the characteristic of resilience in the piano hammer. The desire to measure this actually led to the invention of the resiliometer—go to http://www.ccsi-inc.com/p-resilience-shore-resiliometer.htm— which has become a standard measuring instrument for a variety of materials and products.

It turns out that this is not the best way to measure the resilience of a piano hammer. A better method carefully measures hammer velocity and tracks measured hammer impact force against contact time but this requires a specialized test setup that is neither easy nor cheap to set up. See Dan Russell’s research papers for more information on this measurement technique.

As well, it is a subject I’ve touched on from time to time both on this list and on Piano Forum.

ddf
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 11/02/12 07:58 AM

Thanks Del, and for the info on the Weber floating board
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 11/02/12 12:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Del


It turns out that this is not the best way to measure the resilience of a piano hammer. A better method carefully measures hammer velocity and tracks measured hammer impact force against contact time but this requires a specialized test setup that is neither easy nor cheap to set up. See Dan Russell’s research papers for more information on this measurement technique.

As well, it is a subject I’ve touched on from time to time both on this list and on Piano Forum.

ddf


Yes, indeed. Take the force vs. time data, run it through the Fourier Integral, and you'll find out the frequency response of the forcing function that results from the hammer blow.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 11/02/12 03:29 PM

Your work on Young Chang seem to be noticed, a customer of mine just told me he was amazed by some Young chang he played lately.

WIth floating soundboard the stiffness of the bass region of the soundboard is not a problem, I believe it may really help.

I had not the chance to test one lately, will let you know. I was dubitative when I heard my customer, but he is a really talented and exigent pianist, have a Grotrian Steinweg and an Euterpe, so to say, so I can trust him.
Thanks for the informations,

Is the action better now ? the wood was really instable in the Young Chang grands, some 10 20 years ago (shanks and flanges, pinning problems, warping and twisting where common)

I heard that Samick produce now an action line that is named Flemming (the old name of an old Eastern Europe action, owned now by W; Steinberg, hence that production by Samick) but I doubt those parts are used in Young Chang (?) /Weber ... (no Weber in Europe for what I know)

Greetings

Posted by: acortot

Re: Hammer suggestions: modern board - 11/02/12 06:30 PM

Just to try and get back to the original question, I've had the impression that newer Yamaha pianos as well as others which use a stiff relatively inert-sounding board do not sound as good when they are voiced to be dark. They sound quite boring and lifeless.

Older pianos with vintage soundboards tend to have more resonances in the soundboard and the soundboard wood, being more of a seasoned tone-wood on the old pianos, tends to add harmonics to dark hammers, making the tone more interesting and complex.

The lower partials which are closer to the fundamental, on a perfect, rigid piano with a tight-sounding soundboard tend to be so simple and predictable sounding that the sound can be lifeless. To make the sound more rich you need to calculate the soundboard as a resonator IMO

The other way to make the sound more interesting is to make it brighter and percussive so that the shock of the hammer will set the string into oscillation in a more unpredictable, more dynamic fashion. The problem though is that you sacrifice dynamic shading, singing tone, roundness etc.,