Adjusting Steinway flanges

Posted by: rsross

Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 12:54 AM

I am slowly working my way through a full regulation of my Steinway M action, having never touched a pianos internals before. I am doing this mostly for fun and to learn how the whole thing works. It was quite gratifying to see how much improvement there was in simply adjusting the hammer heights, let-off and drop.

One thing that is alluding me is the adjustment of the whippen and hammer flanges. These are contoured to match the unique shaped Steinway rails and tighten down to the same position each time. I can hardly adjust the hammer flanges at all from side to side, not quite enough to center the hammers on the strings, which are off a bit in the lower treble. I could shim them, but then they wouldn't travel vertically. The whippen flanges allow for slightly more movement, but not quite enough to recenter them to their hammer knuckles. Are the Steinway flanges not meant to be adjusted side to side? Is the flange wood just so completely compressed to the rail shape that there is no longer any give? Can I use some thin felt or cloth underneath to provide some flexibility?

Any advice from the pros would be appreciated.

On a related note, the most worn parts in my action are the knuckles, which are highly compressed and grooved. Are these worth replacing or repairing, or is it just better to replace the hammers, shanks and knuckles all at once?
Posted by: rebuild

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 09:01 AM

The answer to your question is quite simple: Call an experienced piano technician and pay this person for their time, education and abilities to have this job done the right way!
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 09:04 AM

There is so much involved in fully regulating a grand (over 50 operations)regarding the order you do things and the methods you choose that it best not be done by anyone other than a fully experienced technician. At best you will be wasting your time with operations you do over again and WCS is you end up painting yourself in a corner or permanently damaging parts.

Everything you ask can be done but requires a strict regimen, some special tools, and a knowledgeable eye. As for the knuckles, if they are not worn badly they can be bolstered with yarn or cloth to get back their round shape but seriously, have a tech that does this kind of work look at it and give you their opinion.
Posted by: James Senior

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 12:24 PM

I hope someone answers this perfectly relevent and interesting question.
Personally I have only worked on instruments with wooden action rails, so have never encountered this problem. I should like to know the answer[s].
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 03:54 PM

“On a related note, the most worn parts in my action are the knuckles, which are highly compressed and grooved. Are these worth replacing or repairing, or is it just better to replace the hammers, shanks and knuckles all at once?”
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Usually this is determined previous to starting regulation,after these parts are replaced the whole action requires complete grand action regulation of all motion flanges.

Steinway flanges are shaped to fit the metal rails correctly. Sounds like yours have warped over the years due to moisture or other factors. Putting some materials under the flange will allow the flange to “swim” left and right and this would not be desirable.

Grand piano regulation and repair is not something you would want to attempt on your own without direction or instruction from someone in this field of endeavor. There is the possibility of you damaging or breaking parts, as mentioned………the end result being a higher cost to repair.

www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 04:36 PM

Oh, come on, guys--why are you being mean to rsross? He asked a simple question--how do you align hammers to strings when the flanges can't be rotated? What's wrong with a piano owner wanting to learn on his own piano? If he breaks anything it's on his nickel, no one gets hurt, and his tech gets paid to straighten things out.

The question seems perfectly innocent and straightforward.
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 04:53 PM

"The question seems perfectly innocent and straightforward." Roy123

It is, and the kindest answer is ... let an expert do the work. It's beyond the scope of the normal piano owner, and if you have to ask how to do this work, you're ... normal.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 05:05 PM

“What’s wrong with a piano owner wanting to learn on his own piano? If he breaks anything it's on his nickel, no one gets hurt, and his tech gets paid to straighten things out. “
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For myself, I have been supplied with no proof that this instrument is owned by this person.

Just because the OP states so doesn’t make it so. Remember where you are…… this is the Piano Forum remember? You know the place where everyone can post an imaginary name, with an imaginary problem, and on and on. This place has been discredited a great deal for some of the members here, primarily because of the musings and antics of members like Pianomadam………and many others.

“How do you align hammers when the flanges can’t be rotated??”
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The question is perfectly innocent and straightforward just like the answer supplied to the OP.

Sounds like yours have warped over the years due to “moisture and other factors”. Can you see the answer contained in the response?? If it is moisture that has warped the parts along with other factors perhaps it is moisture and other factors that repair the problem.

And some specialized tools that the OP will not have nor will the OP have the ability to obtain the tools unless he/she knows where to get them.
Perhaps observing the technician while repairing the problem the OP will learn what has happened.

Also something else to think about. How do any of the techs here know if the OP is describing the problem correctly? If they are not, this could be the incorrect diagnosis.

www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: rsross

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 05:05 PM

Thanks Roy and James for the support and thanks Silverwood for at least some information. You answered part of my question.

I have to say I am rather put off by being told that I should only have an experienced technician attempt to do regulation on my piano. First off, I am extremely technically competent, can read and follow directions (I have read through Reblitz multiple times while doing my tinkering) and I am smart enough not to do things that could damage my piano due to my lack of tools or skill. For instance I would never attempt to shape or voice my hammers, I would never attempt to replace a broken string, I would never attempt to replace parts myself. I am perfectly comfortable and probably more than competant enough to level and set my hammer throw, regulate the let-off and drop and I would probably not give a second thought to minor adjustments of other parts that involve simply adjusting a screw or slightly repositioning a part like the hammer knuckly that I asked about. If I damage or break a part, so be it, I will learn from that as well.

As for my piano, it is old and probably requires a partial or full rebuild. But for now it plays well enough and if I can both learn by doing the simpler regulation tasks myself and make it play better by doing so, great. Even if I had a new concert quality grand, I would still feel comfortable doing some of these minor tasks.

I have learned quite a bit reading through these forums since I got my piano, and I find it sad that the professional technicians here are so insecure that they can't find it in themselves to offer advice to a curious and interested person. This is what is so great about the internet in general, professionals and amateurs alike can share a passion and help each other out.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 05:25 PM

(I have read through Reblitz multiple times while doing my tinkering)
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Perhaps you reading was not as thorough as you thought.

“I have learned quite a bit reading through these forums since I got my piano”
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Keep reading and you will find the answers to your dilemma…….

“I have to say I am rather put off by being told that I should only have an experienced technician attempt to do regulation on my piano.”
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I guess you will have to decide whether you would like to see it done correctly or not.

Regulation has 22 or more steps per key; you will not find them all without assistance. Whether you are mechanically inclined or not, is a moot point.

www.silverwoodpianos.com


www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: curry

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 05:46 PM

A few hints. Travel paper, straight edge razor blade, alcohol lamp, S&S type flange tool, and a screw driver. Due to the unique shape of the S&S flanges some specialty tools are in order. But since you're so inclined to screw up your piano, you could probably due less damage with the above. Another big hint. Do to the concavities and convexities of these flanges, you need to think diagonal with the travel paper.
Posted by: rsross

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 06:00 PM

Man, what is it with you people. Why are you so unwilling to allow that there are people who can actually do some things for themselves and actually *want* and are comfortable in *asking* for some guidance and input from those more experienced.

And Dan, I really hope you treat your customers better. No one appreciates derision and arrogance.

Good riddance
Posted by: rsross

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 06:03 PM

Thanks curry, advice appreciated!
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 06:20 PM

“Man, what is it with you people. Why are you so unwilling to allow that there are people who can actually do some things for themselves and actually *want* and are comfortable in *asking* for some guidance and input from those more experienced.

And Dan, I really hope you treat your customers better. No one appreciates derision and arrogance.
Good riddance.”
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Actually it is the reverse. My customers do not phone me up and ask me to direct them through a repair I cannot see. They actually hire me to do my job because I am good at what I do.

As for people who want to do jobs for themselves, I haven’t seen any objection to this here. You seem to have some research books and have read through some of the forum threads.

You would like to do this on your own so we are encouraging you to do so. After all, in your first post you state “any advice would be appreciated.”

So you get lots of advice and then good riddance? Well that kind of thing will get you a lot of help here for sure……nice touch.

Good luck with the adjustments.

www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: Ron Alexander

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 06:28 PM

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Man, what is it with you people. Why are you so unwilling to allow that there are people who can actually do some things for themselves and actually *want* and are comfortable in *asking* for some guidance and input from those more experienced.
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I suppose the thing that irritates most of us is that, this is probably the only technical forum on the d--- internet, where people without any knowledge OF what needs to be accomplished can come and ask these types of questions, AND USUALLY THEY GET SOME TYPE OF ANSWER!!!!

It actually boils down to we really dont care what you do to your piano...you bought it...it's yours...do with it what you want!!!!!! But I for one wont help you do it!!!!!! But a Steinway M...come'on!!!!

To me there's a big difference between helping someone who really wants to learn piano technology, and someone who's just playing around, because they are too cheap to call someone who knows what he/she is doing!!!!!

For many of us who are Techncians, this is NOT a DIY'er Bulletin Board, nor a Forum for DIY'er questions.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 06:43 PM

AMEN, big brother Ronnie!

Fire and brimstone on the DIYers!


(just kidding, of course... keep the questions coming, guys and gals :3hearts: That's what we're here for and that what they pay us the big bucks for. After all, this is just the piano version of the "Car Talk" show!)
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 06:51 PM

“Just kidding, of course... keep the questions coming, guys and gals That's what we're here for and that what they pay us the big bucks for. After all, this is just the piano version of the "Car Talk" show!)”
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Jurgen, you are absolutely correct,..it just came to me….I know why the hammers don’t line up…..the piano is the wrong colour…yeah that’s it…

That’s really enough for me fellas……...

www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: rsross

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 07:06 PM

"To me there's a big difference between helping someone who really wants to learn piano technology, and someone who's just playing around, because they are too cheap to call someone who knows what he/she is doing!!!!!"

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Wow. I obviously want to learn about piano technology, otherwise why would I be bothering here. I *really* want to learn how to do minor adjustments and repairs to my own instrument. I do the same thing with my Cello, I do the same thing with my car, I do the same thing with my house, I do the same thing with my audio equipment. As I said I also really know my limits and regularly call in professionals, not to fix my mistakes, but to deal with things I am obviously not skilled nor tooled to do. I am not just playing around, I am genuinely interested and curious to fully understand how my wonderful piano works in detail and how to fine tune its operation. In fact I have already had a professional tune this piano and do a cleaning and partial regulation. He showed me how to remove the action properly and explained the basic workings and adjustments as he went. I chose to go further then him and do a top to bottom fine adjustment for myself and my own pleasure, not because I am cheap.

I asked what I expected to be an easy question for someone with direct experience adjusting Steinway flanges. I did not found an answer or explanation in books and assume that this would be a fantastic forum to have a discussion and possibly get some good answers. Rather than any substantive answer (excepting two posts) I am basically being told by numerous pro's here that I am not really welcome and that I should call a professional. A bit off the point, don't you think? If you don't care how I screw up my own piano, why not just let me know how you deal with Steinway hammer flanges. Maybe someone else here will learn something too!

And BTW this is a public forum dedicated to tuning and maintenance of pianos. It is not a professionals only meeting place as some of you seem to act. Fine, all yours.
Posted by: Bob

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 08:16 PM

I had a water leak yesterday. I went to the internet for help on how to fix it. No, I didn't go to the

Do It Yourself Plumbers forum

I Googled Plumbers in Orlando, and found someone to fix it for me.

You should buy a beater grand or an action model to practice on. Save your Steinway till you have some experience regulating other pianos - That's all we are trying to say......

Enough said.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 09:18 PM

I had a water leak yesterday too but lucky for me, I made it to the bathroom in time..... To much coffee! Oh, not that kind of leak huh??? \:D
Posted by: Ron Alexander

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 09:39 PM

JERRY!!!!!!!!!!!!In need of a diaper???? They make 'em especially for the age'ing!! \:D
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 11:14 PM

Does my avatar look like I do?
Posted by: Supply

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/27/09 11:57 PM

Oh, that's an avatar...?

thought that was the real you... was feeling sorry for your wife...

So you tell us - does your avatar look like you or not?

By the way - Ron, my 10 year old loves your wild hair and youthful demeanor...
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 12:07 AM

No wonder I'm always having to chase her around the house! And here all this time I thought she was just playing with me when she was actually really trying to get away! Go figure!

I don't know Jurgen, you tell me!?

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/YfSlWjP3yOuE_sZ9JCKTQg?feat=directlink
Posted by: John Dutton

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 01:22 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by rsross:
Wow. I obviously want to learn about piano technology, otherwise why would I be bothering here. I *really* want to learn how to do minor adjustments and repairs to my own instrument. I do the same thing with my Cello, I do the same thing with my car, I do the same thing with my house, I do the same thing with my audio equipment. As I said I also really know my limits and regularly call in professionals, not to fix my mistakes, but to deal with things I am obviously not skilled nor tooled to do. [/b]
If you really want to learn then find a local mentor. Most folks don't move the soundpost of their cello on their own or shape a fingerboard. If you are truly earnest then it should not be hard to find a mentor and you will get the information and supervision you require.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 01:36 AM

I'm always surprised at what an uproar folks get in! I think the OP had a really good question. Steinway flanges ARE trickier to align to the strings. Even though it's a Steinway, there is no guarantee that they were properly aligned in the factory.

The OP's question is worth a discussion. I'm sure many professional techs are not that experienced with aligning parts in Steinways, and would appreciate some helpful hints.

I am of the opinion that if you have a problem with a post, simply don't respond to it. Why put energy into something you don't think is worthwhile?

rsross, since your this far into it you might find it very worthwhile to contact Steinway and get the new CD version of the service manual.
Posted by: Keith Roberts

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 11:46 AM

How about,
You don't center the hammer on the strings in the plain wire section. Steinways you line up the left side of the hammer, 1mm over from the left wire. Maybe 1.5mm.

Is that a direct enough answer to the question? And don't make the mistake of not loosening the screw and setting the flange in place because the cloth on the rail will cause it to spring back. Of course you need to check the felt on the left key frame glide. New felt there could move the frame over a mm or two.

Let's see, what else of Yamahas 37 steps to grand regulation could come before, that would affect the hammer alignment?
Posted by: Supply

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 04:10 PM

I don't think I would treat my own local clients any better (or worse) than some anonymous query on the internet. If a local client called me with this type of question, I know what I would say: "I think an expert with experience should have a look at it"

Personally I would never advise my client to call Steinway and ask for a service manual. Perhaps other techs might...

When this kind of question comes up, there are probably at least half a dozen other issues and adjustments that need correcting, as properly alluded to by Keith. There are always very, very many details and questions that the DIYer doesn't even know about to ask...
Posted by: rysowers

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 05:01 PM

Yes, but he was not asking about all the other adjustments. He had a specific question about a specific issue. It was a discussion that could benefit many on this forum. He understands the risks and is excited to learn. Many of us started out tinkering on our own pianos before we were "qualified".
Posted by: Ron Alexander

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 06:14 PM

I too was appalled that a Technician would suggest someone other than another Techncian or Dealer, call Steinway to request a service manual. Action regualtion is NOT brain surgery, but it does require some degree of training, working with a mentor, or self study that usually results in major frustration and initial screw ups. It requires some degree of experience.

I, for one, will NOT help these people. I usually remain quiet and move to another thread when I see them. But in this instance, we are talking about a Steinway M; a very expensive piano, and one that has more than the normal quirks when it comes to regulating the action.

So if one surmises my comments as an uproar, or "nasty," then so it be. I certainly dont intend them to be nasty or offensive. If people here have a burning desire to help the piano owning public learn to regulate or tune or whatever, they are certainly entitled to this opinion, and to post as such.

My desire when it comes to educating the public is to help them understand the maintenance needs of their piano. There are things an owner can do to help me keep their piano in tip top condition. Becoming an amateur piano tech is not one of them. \:\)

Peace and Harmony.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 08:04 PM

“He understands the risks and is excited to learn.”

Agreed. Apparently though, he does not like to be taught. Part of being an instructor is allowing the student to “see” or “discover” where the problem lies.

Many of the posters on this thread have given plenty of information, nudges, and hints. Armed with all of that help, and further, with the instructional books that the OP has, or claims to have, should have gone a long way to helping solve the problem.

The OP has made several claims in this thread about fixing a colorful variety of mechanical objects. It seems that the OP would like to learn on his own and has stated so. Then why come here then? Most here have a working life as a professional technician. This is hardly doing it yourself if we tell the OP the full answer.

Some might want to go back and read the entire thread. In my book this is not a discussion, it is answering and solving a problem (sight un-seen) for a DIY’er and no proof has been supplied that this is his piano. How do we all know if we are assisting in helping to screw up a good action?

In this particular instance, the OP wanted the whole answer to the question without trying to sort it out for himself. When he does not receive the answer he is looking for he gets objectionable……

www.silverwoodpianos.com
Posted by: Keith Roberts

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 10:58 PM

Posted by Sliverwood;
In my book this is not a discussion, it is answering and solving a problem (sight un-seen) for a DIY’er and no proof has been supplied that this is his piano. How do we all know if we are assisting in helping to screw up a good action?


That is one of the best reasons not telling guys like this anything except it sounds as if he's already screwing it up. :rolleyes:
If he is lying to us then for sure he is going to go ahead and collect money for it and proclaim it working properly. Anyway.

So I say, if you have to suggest he find a tech or mentor, you don't have to be rude. Let one of the more polite guys, tactfully suggest it and then just echo. We don't need hysterical or insulting dissertations on this subject everytime someone asks a question.
I much prefer sarcasm.
Posted by: Keith Roberts

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/28/09 11:05 PM

Oh, there are guys like Jerry Vivano that have done some really nice things with their work because of our help and I'm sure it has only wetted their appetite
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/29/09 10:34 AM

Greetings,
In the same sense that the balloon seller will
GIVE you a needle, here is how you space Steinway flanges.

First, actions usually migrate to the left as the stop felt compacts. Do not try to space the hammers to accomodate this global movement or you will have all the shanks sitting to the right of the bump pads.pick the majority of the shanks that are centered over the whippen rest pads and determine if you need to shim the stop block on the bass side of the action cavity.

While traveling,keep the flanges in their same position, (if you move the flanges laterally on previously compacted hammer rail cloth, they will really travel a lot, but will be unstable), you can then move the hammer from side to side by placing traveling paper on opposing corners.

If you put the paper, ( I use brown packing tape cut in various width strips, from 1/16" to about 3/16") under the proximal right corner and the distal left corner, the hammer will swing to the right without upsetting the traveling. The reverse also is true. If you keep the flange in the same indentation on the hammer rail, it will usually keep its traveling undisturbed.
If you place the paper under just one corner, you combine traveling and spacing, ie, If the hammer is traveling to the right, yet is hitting the strings as you like, then placing the paper under the proximal right corner of the flange will space the hammer to the right while also traveling it to the left.With experience,the amount of time and paper required to space and travel can be minimized.

Inre the whippens:they are spaced and traveled the same way, though everything is at 90 degrees, so get accustomed to the procedure on the hammers first. The whippens must not only align with the knuckles at the balancier window, they must also align with the capstan. This twin requirement sometimes necessitates traveling the whippen so that it is not perfectly vertical, but tht can't be helped.

There is a lot of things to keep in mind, not the least is that when you changed the spacing on well worn hammers, you will need to learn to shape and resurface them, since string grooves misaligned to strings sound terrrible.
Hope that helps,
regards
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 01/29/09 10:37 AM

One other things about that paper: the wider the strip, the greater the effect. Also, how far out the paper is located, the greater the effect, ie, if you place a 1/16" shim at the very edge of the flange, it will have more effect than if you place it halfway between the center and the edge of the flange.
Posted by: bill32

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 03/12/09 01:06 AM

Bravo Foote!
I have been working on pianos for over 50 years and am still learning everyday. The first year in the business I went to a shop in NYC. Asked a simple question and was told "we can't answer that it is a secret". There were other times as well. These so called secrets I later found were not so secret. However it is like the dark ages with these people. If I had to hire a piano man it would most likely be you as opposed to those who were unwilling to help. This thread made me think of those days. Your answer was very complete.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: Adjusting Steinway flanges - 03/13/09 03:11 AM

Excellent post Ed!

Speaking of spacing hammers...

A good tip I picked up at the California PTG conference this year was to space the hammers with the una chorda pedal activated. Space the hammers so that the left edge of the hammer splits the left string. Then finish by filing off the edge of the hammer.This way you end up with very uniform hammer position with the una chorda depressed.

I believe it was Richard Davenport who suggested this, but I'm not sure.

I've been getting pickier about the una chorda adjustment and voicing the past year. Steve Brady's new book inspired me to pay more attention to this. It was suggested by one of the concert artists he interviewed that technicians should pay more attention to refining the una chorda.