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#624873 - 11/03/06 05:06 PM PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Ken B. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/23/06
Posts: 10
Hi, All,

I am interested in learning the regulation specifications for my piano, and need to know where the information can best be found.

I own a Steinway K-52 upright, serial number 5175XX (manufactured 1991?). Action is by Herrburger-Brooks.

I have seen both the PTG Piano Action Handbook (1991) and the Steinway Service Manual (expensive!) for sale by several vendors.

Would the adjustment specifications for my Steinway piano be included in the PTG Handbook, or would I need to get ahold of the Steinway Manual?

Are the specs for my piano available from another source, or would anyone be willing to send them to me (only if that is kosher, of course!)?

Thanks for any help or advice!

Ken

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#624874 - 11/03/06 07:32 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3292
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Hi Ken,

It's nice that you're interested in regulation your piano but you'll get the same answer as you would about trying to tune it yourself. It is not a job for an amateur! You could get the specs Steinway recommends, look at some pictures or illustrations about what to do, follow the specs to a "T" (or so you thought) and end up with a disastrously unplayable piano!

On the other hand, if you asked me to regulate your piano, I wouldn't look up a single spec nor would I even measure a single dimension, yet I'd have your piano playing optimally in short order. You need to find someone who really knows what he/she is doing and who would be willing to let you watch and try your hand with some of the tools and techniques.

Going it alone is not recommended. Should you decide to do so anyway, just remember this: anything you change more than just a small amount from where it was is WRONG! Any more than just a couple of cranks of any regulating screw is too much. Any change of the key height or dip beyond the thickness of a piece of cardboard is TOO MUCH! Any change of the hammer rest rail to shorten the blow distance beyond the thickness of a heavy piece of cardboard or thin piece of felt is TOO MUCH! Chances are anyway, your blow distance needs to be lengthened, not shortened, which is more complicated.

Your final outcome needs to be a delicate balance of all specs that leaves just a little margin for change as the piano is played until the next need for regulation is evident. Most vertical pianos, including Steinways, are set up at the factory with a blow distance which is too short and a dip which is too deep. This gives the action far too much aftertouch, initially but as all other specs are set to it, the compression of all the felts which support the regulating dimensions usually works well with the way the piano was set up. The seemingly excessive specs turn into normal specs and continue on to need correction. Keeping the piano in optimum regulation should be thought of as corrections mostly compensating for compression of material, not large bends and multiple turns.

There is a secret to optimum vertical piano regulation. You can have every bit as fast repetition as the finest grand on the most ordinary vertical if your action geometry is optimum. Do not try for less than 1/8" let off on most low end verticals. Maybe a little less but not much for high end. A 3/8" standard key dip is fine, going deeper does not help.

Then, the trick is to find the blow distance which will make the hammer come into check about a thumb's width from the string. Take out the material which supports the rest rail, if you must. Set all of the C's and all of the F's with the capstan adjustment so that each key plays optimally. You will see that the rest rail is not needed when the mechanism is adjusted properly.

Optimally means that the hammer falls into check about a thumb's width from the strings and that the jack clears the hammer butt by a very slim margin. As soon as the finger releases the key, the jack pops back under the butt and is ready to play again. There is a good reason that a vertical piano action doesn't have the repetition lever that a grand action has: It doesn't NEED one! If you shim and set the rest rail to the point where MOST of your trial C and F hammers lie, you'll have an optimum blow distance and best possible performance from the entire action. You need only adjust all of the capstans to the blow distance you have found to be optimum. (The spoon and damper adjustments are also critical but details on that shall be for another day. If you find optimum capstan adjustment, damper spoons should not need adjustment.)

I am one tech who believes that vertical pianos should be treated with respect. Certainly, a Steinway should be. But if you do any researching at all, you'll see that many techs hate Steinway verticals. They are far and away more difficult to regulate than just about any other brand. The same has been profusely said about tuning them. So, take it from me, you need professional help and help that is professional!
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#624875 - 11/03/06 08:28 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Very very sound advice from Mr. Bremmer. Many Steinway verticals try the patience of even an experienced tech sometimes. If you begin adjusting the regulation on this piano, you may end up creating more problems than you will resolve...and it could be fairly expensive to get the action back to proper regulation.

And I agree tuning a Steinway vertical can be a challenge. Tuning pins in these pianos are very very tight. IMHO it takes a good amount of experience, and excellent tuning hammer control and technique to tune these because of the tight pins. Shortly after I began to tune in the early 1980's, I was called to tune a new Steinway. I wondered what I had gotten myself very shortly after beginning the tuning. Now, I prefer very tight pins...experience I guess teaches one, how to move the pins without making them jump to far sharp or flat.
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-----------------
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Piano Tuner-Technician

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#624876 - 11/03/06 09:21 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
scutch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 347
Loc: california
I will remake Bill's point about not using references: If you understand the principles of regulation you will never need to refer to any specifications.

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#624877 - 11/04/06 06:36 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Ken B. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/23/06
Posts: 10
Thanks, Guys, for the replies.

I don't intend to do much regulation of my piano! I am just curious about how my piano's action specs differ from the "standard" specs I've seen in the "how to" manuals in our public library.

My piano seems to be working very well (If it ain't broke, don't fix it!), but I have noticed two things:

1) The hammer blow distance seems a bit long, measuring exactly 2 inches.

2) When the soft pedal is depressed the hammers move forward 1/2 inch, making the new hammer blow distance 1 1/2 inches. The piano action seems very "loose" and disconnected when playing using the soft pedal. I know some added lost motion is normal on an upright, but I was curious about the preferred spec for adjustment of the soft pedal.

Any advice?

Thanks

Ken

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#624878 - 11/04/06 12:30 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
The spec for an upright is half the blow distance. The added lost motion is huge (except for those few actions that eliminate it).

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
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Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
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#624879 - 11/04/06 02:25 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21821
Loc: Oakland
The book you are probably looking at for regulating Steinways is not the service manual. It is a book written by a German, specifically for grands. You could ask Steinway for their own service manual.

Steinway upright actions, especially since WWII, are no different than any other manufacturer's. There are only a few adjustments: Key height and dip, lost motion/hammer blow, let-off, checking distance, and dampers. Let-off for Steinways is specified at 1/16", which is the thickness of the magnetic tape that I recommend as a gauge for setting upright let-off distance. Let-off. back checks and lost motion are the only things which change much in uprights.

If the hammers have worn a lot, it is better to replace them than to try to adjust the hammer blow distance, which will upset the damper adjustments. If that is not in the cards, then I have found that screwing in the action bolts is the safest way to adjust it, rather than messing with the hammer rail stop felts.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#624880 - 11/05/06 02:45 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
snip....
If the hammers have worn a lot, it is better to replace them than to try to adjust the hammer blow distance, which will upset the damper adjustments. If that is not in the cards, then I have found that screwing in the action bolts is the safest way to adjust it, rather than messing with the hammer rail stop felts. [/b]
I have never heard of adjusting the blow distance by adjusting the action bolts. Would this mean that when the worn hammers eventually get replaced, the technician would have to re-set the action bolts back to their original factory setting? How would he/she know they had been altered?
just curious...
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Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#624881 - 11/05/06 04:09 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21821
Loc: Oakland
Actually, I do not recommend fiddling with the bolts unless you need to replace them because you cannot find a replacement nut with the proper thread. It is better to replace the hammers if they get to be too short, but on the other hand...

Anyone who has worked on old uprights has undoubtedly found that after shortening the hammer blow and cranking up the capstans to take out the lost motion so that the piano will play without double-striking, the dampers lift too quickly. Within a certain range, however, you can get close to the proper hammer blow by cranking the bolts in a turn or two, and not affect the dampers too much. Yes, you probably should put them back if you replace the hammers. I guess you could leave a note in the piano if there is a chance that someone might install new hammers at some point.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#624882 - 11/05/06 07:24 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
Ken B. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/23/06
Posts: 10
Thanks for the helpful advice. This thread certainly is getting interesting, but no one has actually offered an answer to my original question:

I have seen two books readily available, the PTG Piano Action Handbook (1991) and the Steinway Service Manual (Max Matthias).

I don't have any way to examine the books before buying, so what I need to know is... do either or both of these books include specs for regulating Steinway UPRIGHTS, or just grands?

If both books do include the specs, exactly how much more specific or helpful is the Steinway book?

PLEASE don't try to save me from ill-advised attempts at hopelessly screwing up a really nice piano! I have no intention of getting in over my head. I'm just interested! Anyone can buy a medical book to learn more about medical conditions, even though he knows that trying to diagnose/treat himself would be foolhardy!

Thanks!

Ken

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#624883 - 11/05/06 12:13 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21821
Loc: Oakland
The Matthias book is only about grands. The PTG book has both. Neither are what you want. If there is any book that would suit your purpose, it would be the Steinway service manual, the real one, not the Matthias.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2041660 - 03/02/13 12:40 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Weiyan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 770
Loc: Hong Kong
Sorry for post to wrong thread.

Sorry for disturbing.

Re-post to Unison Tuning.
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2041664.html#Post2041664


Edited by Weiyan (03/02/13 12:52 AM)
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Ragtime beginner
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#2041662 - 03/02/13 12:46 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Why do you post this in an old thread about something entirely different?

I think you are moving the pin too much - taking it too sharp and then having to go all the way down again. The less you move the pin, the more stable the unisons will be. Listen closely to your unisons. They are not pure. Try to get two strings to sound as pure as one string before moving on.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2041813 - 03/02/13 11:18 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
WHen the hammers are worn it is certainly easier toi allow for a larger letoff, than to modify the stroke.
If the stroke is miodified and the key capstans are regulated accordingly, the damper timing is more early.

If not regulated the spoons will tend to crush the blades back cloth sooner (too large move)
THe cloth on the bottom of the blade, if worn will make a lot of friction, to the point the spoon get caught in the cloth and the note stop working.

just a little action on letoff, mostly to get it even , is enough in my opinion.

With small hammers and close letoff, the hammers can be slow on return when played lightly. the vertical hammer usually is almost in equilibrium, near the strings, only the assist spring helps it to go back


Edited by Olek (03/02/13 11:20 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2041839 - 03/02/13 12:19 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4226
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Olek
WHen the hammers are worn it is certainly easier toi allow for a larger letoff, than to modify the stroke.
If the stroke is miodified and the key capstans are regulated accordingly, the damper timing is more early.


Yes, this is mostly what I do; allow the let-off to be a little wide. Usually when hammers have significant wear technicians move the hammer rail forward to obtain proper strike distances. This along with picking up the capstans changes the position of the whippen and that causes the early damper lift.

Early damper lift will change touch weight. Light hammers are also slow sometimes as you state and increasing the return spring tension also changes the touch.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#2041874 - 03/02/13 02:12 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
wide letoff is not that chocking, when a moderator "molliphone" is used the letoff is yet large...

the pianist need to articulate a little more, then when he play on a grand, what a pleasure wink


Edited by Olek (03/02/13 02:12 PM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2042147 - 03/03/13 03:37 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Toni Goldener Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/11
Posts: 110
Loc: Switzerland
And, don' t forget the bridle tapes. Pull out the upright action, put a screwdriver between the damper lift rod and the main action rail. Often you can find this kind of big lost motion. Bend the bridlewire back but let a small amount of this lost motion between the jack and the hammer butt. Feel this motion by moving the wippen up. That should help the repetition, and that the hammer does not come up with the idea to bobble, too.

Toni


Edited by Toni Goldener (03/03/13 03:39 AM)
_________________________
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Klavierservice Luzern
(Piano Service Lucerne)
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#2042180 - 03/03/13 06:18 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
the amount of lost motion should be enough for the left pedal to push the hammers on 1/3 of the stroke without the whippens moving. (so the keys does not move then)

that is a neat way to fine tune bridle tape, with the left ped motion.


Edited by Olek (03/03/13 06:19 AM)
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2042302 - 03/03/13 11:56 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
pianolive Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 327
Loc: Europe
Ask Steinway NY for their Service Manual, don't waste your money on the Matthias book.
Service manuals from manufacturers are written for technicians who know what to do and what not to do. There are good reasons why we have a long education for this job smile

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#2042309 - 03/03/13 12:08 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
I just recall that for their verticals they have a good instruction set
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2042561 - 03/03/13 09:02 PM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
BenP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 166
Loc: South Jersey
For anyone replying to this thread trying to help the original poster with regulating his Steinway vertical, you should realize he asked the question over six years ago and is probably not around to read your replies.
_________________________
Ben Patterson
Part-time Piano Tech
Rural South Jersey

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#2042682 - 03/04/13 04:35 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
Never mind ! we have answered (we have so little to do that it is a good occupation anyway wink )
_________________________
It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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#2268989 - 04/30/14 06:31 AM Re: PTG Piano Action Handbook vs Steinway Service Manual? [Re: Ken B.]
mdw86 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/29/14
Posts: 5
I am in the process of regulating the dampers on my circa 1896 Steinway upright after having replaced felts. The action is in good mechanical shape otherwise and the felts line up OK. It looks as though this process is different for Steinway than other pianos. Rather than bending wires, it looks like the adjusting screws at the base of the damper lever do the trick. Iím assuming this is done with the action out of the piano. Is part of the regulating process done with the action inside the piano? If the damper lift rod is used as the benchmark for regulating, where and how should it be set? In other words how the heck do I do this?
Thanks!

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