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Topic: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)  (Read 7778 times)

Offline stzorfas

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STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
on: September 17, 2005, 01:05:29 AM
I have a problem and I am wondering if it is something others have experienced.  I had a
piano lesson today on a Steinway B with a very, very heavy and stiff action which was
utter torture!  I have an August Forster 215 which has a wonderful and smooth action.
When I played my pieces for the teacher I had to struggle just to get the notes out-
forget about dynamics or expression.  She really didn't understand how this could be a problem, but I have played on Steinway's before and they all have a stiff action.
What can I do to compensate for this?  Is their a way to practice on my piano to make this situation better.  I don't want to change my August Forster but I also have to
compete in the world of Steinway pianos which are everywhere.  I will be auditioning this
winter for a degree in piano performance.  Do I need to buy another piano with a stiff
action and practice on this ( ?Steinway upright).  I really don't have access to a school or institution to play other pianos.  Please HELP!!! :(

Offline thierry13

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #1 on: September 17, 2005, 02:12:38 AM
If you can't play well on a piano with a stiff action, you're fingers are not strong enough. You MUST be able to play on stiff action pianos. If you must buy a new piano, do it.

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #2 on: September 17, 2005, 04:12:40 AM
when you practice start by playing scales or simple passages as loud as possible. That worked for me.

Offline m

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #3 on: September 17, 2005, 06:25:28 AM
If you can't play well on a piano with a stiff action, you're fingers are not strong enough.

Strong fingers??? What is that?
The piano playing has nothing to do with fingers strength. Some 7-8 years old kids have bigger sound than some adults. Is it because of strength???

As for original question,

If you have financial means of buying a new piano, by all means... Try to get the stiffest action you can find.
 
It seems though, your piano is way too light. Normally, you should not have any problems playing Steinway after "normal" keyboard. Any good piano tech can regulate your piano for harder action, without changing sound or nature of the instrument. Definitely, your fingers should get used to the stiffer touch of modern pianos. It will take some time, but after that you will never experience any problems.   

I always made all the pianos I had as hard as it is possible--regulation, additional weights etc.

Another thing--on many older piano the hammers get engaged in the middle of the key travel. You can feel it by slowly pressing the key--you will see when it "clicks". Modern instrument action tends to do it in the beginning of the travel, which gives completely different "feel".

Also, the same piano feels very different in different acoustics. The same instrument can feel light in a bright room, and much heavier in a well dampened one.   

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #4 on: September 17, 2005, 12:58:14 PM
maybe a better way of saying it is. playing as loud as you can teaches you have to play heavy and fast if need be.

Offline pabst

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #5 on: September 17, 2005, 02:02:18 PM
Strong fingers??? What is that?
The piano playing has nothing to do with fingers strength. Some 7-8 years old kids have bigger sound than some adults. Is it because of strength???

They are obviously playing on a light action piano. There's no debate about it, finger (should be called hand-) strenght is necessary to play on steinways. I used to play on a piano at my music school (that was mainly used on 7-8 years old kids) and it made my playing weak, so when I got to music college I could barely touch the Steinway. What I did was call the tech and tell him to make my home piano WAY stiffer. And it worked great. No tension, none of this bullshit, now it is just bliss to be able to play on the college piano. Hope this helps and enlightens you.

Also, stiffening your piano will force you to improvise and use gravity, arm and wrist power more wisely. It did to me. Now I can literally destroy the ol' light action piano at the music school.  8)
====
Pabst

Offline burobbi

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #6 on: September 17, 2005, 02:11:46 PM
steinway isnt terribly heavy compared to boesendorfer. if you cant play properly on a steinway please really take good note when you are presented with a boesendorfer. from what my friends tell me, steinway is not that difficult to make a sound. the tire comes from your concentration and control of sound.

and marik: there is a difference between bigger sound and louder sound. i mean. to be really very precise, i think you are trying to mean louder. louder refers to the amplitude of the sound wave, but bigger refers to the quality of the sound. a bigger sound need not be louder. a bigger sound does not sound "stuck" unlike the really forced loud sounds, and a bigger sound will feel very spacious and authoritative, and will project and travel. loud isnt equal to big (: yup.

back on track, i also think it is not just a matter of strength. sitting posture. if you are sitting too low you may find it very difficult to keep your arms there and keep playing. you may simply fatigue. if you are sitting higher up you may be able to attack chords from a height but if you are too high up it may also be uncomfortable. pedal work becomes uncomfortable and you may not play properly. get a comfortable sitting height and posture and distance. it enhances your playing.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #7 on: September 17, 2005, 02:34:08 PM
steinway isnt terribly heavy compared to boesendorfer. if you cant play properly on a steinway please really take good note when you are presented with a boesendorfer. from what my friends tell me, steinway is not that difficult to make a sound. the tire comes from your concentration and control of sound.

In my experience (limited, agreed) all the Steinways I have laid my hands on were stiffer (sometimes much more so) than any Bösendorfer I have laid my hands on. Also, any Bösendorfer action was smoother (sometimes much more so) and gave more control than any Steinways action (at least NY models; I don't have much experience with Hamburg models). Your mileage may vary.

Quote from:  pabst
Also, stiffening your piano will force you to improvise and use gravity, arm and wrist power more wisely. It did to me. Now I can literally destroy the ol' light action piano at the music school.

In many cases, a stiff action leads to injury, because many people simply can't take an action that is too stiff. So, unless one already has a very good technique and good understanding of one's playing apparatus, going to a much stiffer action could very well be dangerous.

stzorfas, could it be that this particular Steinway B has a particularly stiff action? Ask your teacher about this. Perhaps, it is the exception, not you. Also, play around on as many pianos you can in order to get a feel for the range that one usually encounters. Go to stores and friends. I'd be surprised if your own AF has such a light action that it would completely fall outside the normal range.

Offline stzorfas

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #8 on: September 17, 2005, 06:20:54 PM
I would like to thank everyone for their help- I have a lot to think about.  I called my
piano technician ( who I think is a good one) and he is very reluctant to mess around with the action on my piano.  He said he could put on heavier hammers.  This would cost
over $1,000.00 to do this.  For whatever reason, he does not recommend adding weights to the keys.  I am not too sure how correct this is, but this is his opinion.  Would
putting heavier hammers on my piano solve the problem?
I don't know any other technicians to ask about increasing resistance to the action.
I spoke to some piano dealers and one had an interesting solution.  Petrof and
Kawai make actions that are adjustable.  Petrof pianos adjust from 54 grams to 70 grams.  This dealer thought Kawai pianos inherently have a stiff action.  Kawai pianos actually have a lever that adjust the action.  For a Petrof piano the technician has to come to your home and set it for you.  Once its set it is fixed.  Would buying one of these  adjustable action pianos simulate a hard and stiff Steinway action??  I really
can't afford to buy another Steinway.  Please advise.  8)
Also, to answer Xvimbi this Steinway piano was very stiff to play, but in my experience
most Steinways have a heavy action.  August Forster is known for a light "buttery" action.

Offline Herve

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #9 on: September 17, 2005, 06:38:26 PM
I felt it my duty to try to give you some advice on your situation.

DO NOT sell your piano and do not alter its action in any way, shape, or form!  Take your time on this - think things through logically,  and do not do anything on impulse.

I have played the piano for over 30 years and have played just about every “brand” of piano known to the Western market.  I am also an amateur piano technician and have helped a local RPT re-build a Stenway B and an M – both requiring new sound boards and bridges, and (on the M) complete regulation and new cloth, hammers, shanks and flanges.  On the M I personally installed all of the treble strings and helped in the installation of the bass.

I also worked for the Province’s only Steinway dealer for a short time as an apprentice technician and tuner.

I own a Bechstein model B and used to own a Yamaha C7, which we bought new.

While visiting my elderly parents in NYC last year, I did a tour of several new-piano dealers, including Altenburg’s (August Forster, Bohemia), Steinway Hall , Bosendorfer New York, Piano Piano  (Bechstein),  Beethoven Piano (Grotrian), Faust Harrison (Mason & Hamlin new and rebuilt, Estonia).

To a certain degree, like fingerprints on people, all pianos sound and feel different – even in the show room.  After they leave the showroom, the “climate” they ” live” in, how they are played and, most importantly, how they are maintained, all combine to give each piano it’s own unique “personality”.

Piano manufacturers all have key weight specifications for their pianos and they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Going from show room to show room it is possible to feel this difference while playing, but it is never as severe as you indicate – at least, I’ve never experienced it.  For some simple reason, sometimes a key will not play, but that is rare, and  those that do play, usually play as they should.

Outside of the show room, however, it’s a different matter. Tuning 3 or four pianos a day quickly teaches one that some pianos are well maintained and, because it is an expense,  many are not – even those of teachers.  Pianos of ALL brands crop up that are almost unplayably stiff and “heavy”.

Humidity is probably the single most important factor in how the action of a piano operates.  (It is also a big factor in sound, but, in this case, I think you’re only concerned about the action.)  If the piano you mentioned is in a high-humidity environment, this is likely the cause of the stiff action.

A competent technician-player could tell in less than one minute if the piano needs regulation.

When there is a stiff action, most of the time it’s the key’s front rail bushing which is binding on the front rail pin.  (It’s possible it could be the balance rail, but most likely the front.)  The key swells slightly with humidity and the hole gets slightly smaller and this causes increased resistance as the bushing slides up and down on the pin. 

If there’s no way that a tech can examine the piano, hold the damper pedal down fully and try to slightly shake the end of the key closest to you.  There should be a very slight “freedom” or “play” to do that.  Then, “grasping” that little “lip” on the end of the key between forefinger and thumb, slowly depress the key while very slightly shaking from side to side.  The key should move downward freely with no binding or excessive friction, but there should not be excessive play, either.

Again, with the damper pedal depressed, once the key is fully down, instantly release it and it should rise to rest in the blink of an eye.

If there’s a problem in either case, the keys have to be “eased” at the least, and a complete regulation may be needed at the most. 

Never assume ANYTHING about a piano from the name appearing on the fall board.  If you want to pay your piano technician to do something, AND IF HE IS ALSO A COMPETENT PLAYER, pay him to examine the piano with the “heavy” action.

If that piano needs regulation and the owner will not get the work done, either YOU pay to get it done, or don't play the piano again.

Good luck to you.

Offline sonatainfsharp

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #10 on: September 18, 2005, 12:36:44 AM
Interesting. To make a piano action feel heavier, you actually REMOVE weights from the keys... on the playing-side of the folcrum... You could do this yourself, believe it or not. In fact, I was going to do it my own piano, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Offline iumonito

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #11 on: September 18, 2005, 01:21:33 AM
Stzorfas, the only reply you should consider from the ones you have gotten is the one from Herve.  The rest is utter nonsense.

First, an analogy:  you would not put bad breaks in your BMW just because all the Fords out there have breaks that stop half a mile after you push the pedal.  Your August Foerster sounds like a really good piano.  Leave it alone.

On the question of heavy action, there is not one single good thing about making the action of your piano heavier.  Piano technique does not improve by working on a bad instrument.  By all means, learn to play to the bottom of the keys and use weight and mass rather than primarily muscle tension... but this has nothing to do with a heavy action.  The literature is difficult enough as it is, no need to make it harder.

Playing the piano is not like pumping iron.

If you are concerned that good instruments will not be available for your concerts, well, get yourself to a position where you can request a serviceable instrument and choose where you play accordingly.

Your question about heavier hammers:  naturally heavier hammers will make the action be heavier.  Pianos that by design have heavy hammers (which results in a very rich, mass-driven sound, which you pay for with an added bit of innertia) often also sport spring-assisted actions to make up for the added weigth.  I may be wrong, but I actually believe that is the case with your piano.

Piano regulation is an art.  It would be very foolish, in my opinion, to remove weight from the keys yourself.  Your technician is giving you good advice.  Study the question some and you will appreaciate it.

Start by learning about Horowitz' piano.  Then proceed to look for biographical info on Gary Graffman, Leon Fleisher and Michelle Beroff.  The desire for a heavy action is simply an outcry of ignorance.

You should post your question in the instruments page, I think you will get more informed responses there.

Best wishes,
Money does not make happiness, but it can buy you a piano.  :)

Offline xvimbi

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #12 on: September 18, 2005, 04:54:38 AM
Stzorfas, the only reply you should consider from the ones you have gotten is the one from Herve.  The rest is utter nonsense.

:'( :'(

Offline Herve

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #13 on: September 18, 2005, 05:15:52 AM
......................................

In many cases, a stiff action leads to injury, because many people simply can't take an action that is too stiff. So, unless one already has a very good technique and good understanding of one's playing apparatus, going to a much stiffer action could very well be dangerous.

stzorfas, could it be that this particular Steinway B has a particularly stiff action? Ask your teacher about this. Perhaps, it is the exception, not you. Also, play around on as many pianos you can in order to get a feel for the range that one usually encounters. Go to stores and friends. I'd be surprised if your own AF has such a light action that it would completely fall outside the normal range.

xvimbi, I don't want to fuel any kind of fire here, but maybe what you said was simply missed.  For what it's worth, I think this was good advice.

Also, I don't think anyone who posted on this thread was doing anything but trying to help.

Offline pita bread

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #14 on: September 18, 2005, 06:12:38 AM
If you can't play well on a piano with a stiff action, you're fingers are not strong enough. You MUST be able to play on stiff action pianos. If you must buy a new piano, do it.

So where are your much anticipated recordings?

Offline stevie

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #15 on: September 18, 2005, 06:46:16 AM
liszt ordered a specially made piano with an EXTREMELY heavy action, so - in his words - he could 'play 10 scales in 1'

well...he meant that playing 1 scale on that piano is like playing 10 on another, and its more economical, time-wise.

Offline sevencircles

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #16 on: September 18, 2005, 07:08:12 AM
I have got the impression that Hamelin plays in the air all the time since his hands aren´t strong enough to play without.

I can´t see many other reasons to why he uses the pedalair in places  where it clearly doesn´t sound good.

Offline stevie

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #17 on: September 18, 2005, 07:11:33 AM
i shook hamelin's hand, he isnt a weakling.

Offline stzorfas

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #18 on: September 18, 2005, 11:32:34 AM
Again, thank you for all your help.  I am not going to do anything to my August Forster.
It really is just perfect the way it is.  To Iumonito:  could you tell me specifically where
I can go to read about weight and mass and playing "to the bottom of the keys"?  Are
there specific books or articles on the internet about this?  Also,  If I can get experience
with a harder/stiffer action should'nt that help me in the long run-even if it is just to get
my hands comfortable on playing on a harder action?  It seems to create a lot of anxiety
for me once I start to play on a stiffer action. 8)

Offline m

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #19 on: September 18, 2005, 05:51:59 PM
Stzorfas, the only reply you should consider from the ones you have gotten is the one from Herve.  The rest is utter nonsense.

What makes you think your reply is less utter nonsense? Lets see:

Quote
First, an analogy:  you would not put bad breaks in your BMW just because all the Fords out there have breaks that stop half a mile after you push the pedal.

Your analogy does not make any sense. Or do you compare the heavier action with bad breaks? Don't you think, if they make a stiffer action, there is a good reason for it?

Quote
On the question of heavy action, there is not one single good thing about making the action of your piano heavier.  Piano technique does not improve by working on a bad instrument.  By all means, learn to play to the bottom of the keys and use weight and mass rather than primarily muscle tension... but this has nothing to do with a heavy action.  The literature is difficult enough as it is, no need to make it harder.

So in your opinion the heavy action=bad piano??? Where in the world did you get it?
I don't quite understand why you put this profound passage about playing to the bottom of the keys in relation to the heavy action and literature difficulty? The heavy action does not make it more difficult, but is just a matter of a few days of getting used to it.

Quote
If you are concerned that good instruments will not be available for your concerts, well, get yourself to a position where you can request a serviceable instrument and choose where you play accordingly.

Are you that kind of pianist, who makes at least 100 concerts a year and can afford to cancel any, if the piano is not good enough for you? Then think about us, mortals, who count and waits impationately for every public appearance.
Do you are understand yourself what you are saying??? The original poster was about difficulty of playing IN THE PIANO LESSON!
Besides, don't you think, if the person thinks that Steinways are heavy, somewhere there is a problem ?

Quote
Start by learning about Horowitz' piano.  Then proceed to look for biographical info on Gary Graffman, Leon Fleisher and Michelle Beroff.

Get back on earth! Why one should start learning about Horowitz piano, except out of curiosity and if you want to see which idiosyncrasies it had? Don't forget he was bringing it anywhere with him to all his recitals. Don't forget all the artists you named had a luxury of going to Steinway basement and choose whatever they wanted for the concert.

Quote
The desire for a heavy action is simply an outcry of ignorance.

Oh, really??? You conveniently omit the fact that many great pianists including Arthur Rubinstein, Simon Barere, and many others, actually liked resistance of the heavy action. Do you really believe they were practicing all the time at home on a light August Forster, and then would come to the hall and their fingers would start flying all over the keyboard??? 

Quote
Best wishes,

Same here.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #20 on: September 18, 2005, 06:02:37 PM
What makes you think your reply is less utter nonsense? Lets see:

Marik, luminoto said that one should consider only Herve's post. Since he deemed all other posts utter nonsense, he already admitted that his is utter nonsense too ;)

Offline iumonito

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #21 on: September 18, 2005, 06:22:25 PM
When will I learn I should not engage.

A heavy piano is a bad, you got the breakes analogy perfectly.  They make a heavy action because they can sell it; it has nothing to do with making a good piano.

You should bear in mind that heavy and light are also relative perceptions.  Mason's keyboards generally require more grams than other pianos to send a hammer to the string.  Once the hammer gets there, the sound has such immediacy that the piano feels light.

Everything you can do in the heavy piano you can do in the light one.  Hopefully we are talking about a difference of grams and nanoseconds here, so please don't put a concept in Rubinstein's mouth that does not belong in there.  He probably did not like pianos which could not be controlled (like the Yamaha's of old), or that had no depth of sound (forgive me, Bosendorfer lovers, but that's the perfect example).  I am willing to bet a point of honor that faced with a heavy instrument and given the choice of a well regulated light one he would have taken the light one.  Why suffer?

Liszt and the ultra heavy piano: first time I here the story.  If true, I will put it in the same manila folder with Schumann's fourth finger training contraption.

I don't play concerts.  When I did, I did not do 100 a year.  This is not out of pretension, you play what you have in front of you.  Things that won't work in a heavy instrument may very well have in a light one.  If the program is Scarlatti and Ravel, good luck.

And learning about Horowitz piano is very instructive.  You should do it.  You may learn something.  At least I feel I did, as when I was 16 me too thought that a heavier piano had more color possibilities than a lighter one (idiot as I was).
Money does not make happiness, but it can buy you a piano.  :)

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #22 on: September 18, 2005, 06:37:27 PM
liszt ordered a specially made piano with an EXTREMELY heavy action, so - in his words - he could 'play 10 scales in 1'

well...he meant that playing 1 scale on that piano is like playing 10 on another, and its more economical, time-wise.

I was going to mention that.  This from the romantic and slightly eccentric book, "Great Piano Virtuosos of Our Time" by Wilhelm von Lenz, who apparently played for and listened intimately to  Liszt, Chopin, Tausig and Henselt, and survived to write about it.  Much of the book is surely romanticized but I think not fiction.  Here is about Liszt's piano:
-----
With modest, but firm step I approached the nearest piano.
"Not that one!" cried Liszt, without in the least changing his half-recumbent position on the sofa, "there, at the other one!"
I walked to the second piano. ... When I tried to strike the first three A-flats I found it quite impossible to make the instrument give forth a sound - what was the matter?  I struck hard; the A-flat sounded, but quite piano. ...
[Liszt said] ".. you did not allow yourself to be discouraged by the hard action of this piano.  I ordered it myself; one scale played on such a piano is equal to ten on any other; it is a completely impossible piano. "
------

I wonder if the piano still exists.  I did play on one Erard played (but I think not owned) by Liszt, but the action was not especially weighty.  I also wonder, if the action was just hard compared to pianos of those times, or would we still consider it hard today?  Also I have played on a Pleyel from the times of Chopin, and without question the action was much lighter than any modern instrument.

Walter Ramsey

Offline maul

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #23 on: September 18, 2005, 08:11:31 PM
Quote
If you can't play well on a piano with a stiff action, you're fingers are not strong enough. You MUST be able to play on stiff action pianos. If you must buy a new piano, do it.

...coming from someone who plays on a digital. Hah.

Offline m

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #24 on: September 18, 2005, 09:05:10 PM

A heavy piano is a bad, you got the breakes analogy perfectly.  They make a heavy action because they can sell it; it has nothing to do with making a good piano.

No, the modern heavy piano is not bad. It is just the matter of different sound and sound volume aesthetics. To make a heavy action is as easy or hard as to make the light one, and has nothing to do with marketing or selling reasons.

Quote
You should bear in mind that heavy and light are also relative perceptions.  Mason's keyboards generally require more grams than other pianos to send a hammer to the string.  Once the hammer gets there, the sound has such immediacy that the piano feels light..

Yes, it is true. The reason however, is that down and up weights should be well balanced. The light action with very little up-lift weight will feel very sluggish, resulting in a much heavier perception of the keyboard.

Quote
Everything you can do in the heavy piano you can do in the light one.

But vs. versa would be much harder. The reality is when you come to give recital there is a very good chance there might be a heavy action piano, and you have to be prepared to play it.
And I'd go with reality.

Quote
Hopefully we are talking about a difference of grams and nanoseconds here, so please don't put a concept in Rubinstein's mouth that does not belong in there.  He probably did not like pianos which could not be controlled (like the Yamaha's of old), or that had no depth of sound (forgive me, Bosendorfer lovers, but that's the perfect example).  I am willing to bet a point of honor that faced with a heavy instrument and given the choice of a well regulated light one he would have taken the light one.  Why suffer?

I am not putting in Rubinstein's mouth anything. It is actually from Franz Mohr, cheaf Steinway technician, who worked for Rubinstein, Horowitz, Gould, Gilels, and many others. His words are that Rubinstein prefered heavier action pianos, with much more resistance.
I am not sure why you take it out of context--nobody likes uncontrolled pianos and of course, it is imperative the heavier ones should be well regulated, as well.

Quote
Liszt and the ultra heavy piano: first time I here the story.  If true, I will put it in the same manila folder with Schumann's fourth finger training contraption.

As pianists Liszt and Schumann were.... hmmm... how to say... little bit in different weight categories. Something tells me that Liszt understood something in pianos and piano technique.

Many of Moscow Conservatory professors had at home two pianos. One (usually quite old and worn), as a workhorse, and another for preparation for concerts. Should the students have a coming performance, they had to play on the heavy one.

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you play what you have in front of you.  Things that won't work in a heavy instrument may very well have in a light one. 

Can you imagine something like playing the concert on a heavy instrument, then something did not come out, so you stop and explain to the audience that on the light one you could do it.
As I have already said, one have to be prepared to the heavy instrument.

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And learning about Horowitz piano is very instructive.  You should do it.  You may learn something. 


Why do you assume I did not??? Of course I did. Not only from Franz Mohr's book, but also from talking with people who personally knew Horowitz and his piano. I knew the down and up-lift weight figures. I heard Horowitz live and I played one of his instruments myself.
You are absolutely right, I learnt something and think that I understand more why Horowitz did not have a beautiful tone.

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At least I feel I did, as when I was 16 me too thought that a heavier piano had more color possibilities than a lighter one (idiot as I was).

This is only one of opinions. I don't think this is the reason to diss all others as utter nonsenses.

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #25 on: September 18, 2005, 09:05:50 PM

and marik: there is a difference between bigger sound and louder sound. i mean. to be really very precise, i think you are trying to mean louder. louder refers to the amplitude of the sound wave, but bigger refers to the quality of the sound. a bigger sound need not be louder. a bigger sound does not sound "stuck" unlike the really forced loud sounds, and a bigger sound will feel very spacious and authoritative, and will project and travel. loud isnt equal to big (: yup.

Or, a loud sound is just a loud sound; but a big sound, is a loud sound where the other sounds are softer, to give it more room, and the apperance of spaciousness and authority.  The only question of sound quality in piano playing is relative; this note relative to that.  Anything that sounds harsh, only sounds harsh in context.  It's the minute variations of volume from one note to the next that is the pianist's burden.
Or, the difference between big sound and loud sound, is one is the artistic vision, and the other is the literal truth. but they are really the same thing.

Walter Ramsey

Offline m

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #26 on: September 18, 2005, 09:41:47 PM
Sorry I missed that one:


and marik: there is a difference between bigger sound and louder sound. i mean. to be really very precise, i think you are trying to mean louder.

No, I meant precisely what I wrote.

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louder refers to the amplitude of the sound wave, but bigger refers to the quality of the sound. a bigger sound need not be louder. a bigger sound does not sound "stuck" unlike the really forced loud sounds, and a bigger sound will feel very spacious and authoritative, and will project and travel. loud isnt equal to big

Yes, I am perfectly aware of it, and that is exactly how I teach my students.
On the technical level, the big sound is a result of use of weight of the whole relaxed body, concentration of energy of relaxed finger, finger tip sensitivity, and immediate release of all the energy after taking the note. 

My point was that the finger strength is irrelevant here.

Offline iumonito

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #27 on: September 19, 2005, 03:01:36 AM
 ::)  You think Horowitz did not have a beautiful tone, having heard him live.  What a waste.

And you are a teacher!  I wish your students well.  You seem to have a fine grasp of relaxation, which causes me to be surprised that you would take the position you do.  Naturally, one of the beauties of art is that 2 + 2 can be 4 or 5 or 6; there is room to disagree.

But this one is such a simple ontological question that it should bare very little  resistance, just like a good piano action.

You talk about realities.  Sitting down, playing Scarbo, it is not as crisp as you can make it in a good instrument.  Well, you battle the instrument and let the qualities of the music do the work.  No apologies are needed, you don't stop (or do, what's the big deal) but there is no gainsaying that if the instrument was better, the performance would have been more enjoyable.

Carrying to absurdity your logic, you should expect to be able to compensate for the deficiencies of an spinet if such is the nightmare you are served with on stage.  I think no such thing is possible, necessary or even desirable.  Demand a good instrument.   If there was a pianists union, halls would have on stage what pianists demand.

What we have instead is what happened in the last Van Cliburn: only Steinways available.  Given the choice, I assure you a large contingent would have chosen other fine makes, like Fazioli, Yamaha, Kawai or my beloved Steingraeber.

Sztorfas, sorry we got carried away on this useless tangent.  I am glad you are not doing anything harsh to your piano.  I will try to find sources for weight and mass in piano playing, although in truth it is more of a concept to experiment with rather than something you can pick from a video or a book.  Perhaps the Neuhaus and Matthay books are a good place where to get started, if you like to read about the stuff, but there is as much junk in there as there is wisdom.

Ciao, I am done.
Money does not make happiness, but it can buy you a piano.  :)

Offline m

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #28 on: September 19, 2005, 04:55:08 AM
Dear Iumonito,

Normally, I would not even consider to post a reply to such message, but there are a few points I wanted to address.
First of all, thank you for giving me a credit for a good grasp on relaxation and wishing well to my students. Yes, I am proud of them! 11 out of 14 of my students in my previous studio were prize-winners in local and national competition. The most talented and motivated ones by age 14-15 play such pieces as Chopin Ballades, Etudes, and Concerti; Liszt Etudes and Rhapsodies; Scarbo; Rachmaninov Concerti, and so on. Basically, by that age they already are accomplished pianists, so your wish (hopefully sincere) would not be out of context.

Re: realities. There was time when I was giving over 400 concert just in a few seasons. Among the venues I played, were such halls as both Grand and Small Halls of Moscow Conservatory, and Leningrad Philharmonia; I played throughout Holland, including Concertgebow; throughout Germany; all major halls in Israel; and I also played in US, including Steinway series, live broadcast on WFMT, on many festivals, and so on. I guess, I saw some pianos and in some sense have a little idea as for reality of concert life. But I have already post about it before.

But I am 100% with you about pianists union. Unfortunately, it is only a dream and something from ideal life.

It seems you are ignoring many things I have said and take things out of context. I'll leave it on you, but for better understanding what I am coming from, I'll tell you that I got a lot of it from my teacher, Lev Naumov.
FYI, the same Lev Naumov, with whom studied such folks as Ivo Pogorelich, Andrei Gavrilov, Alexei Sultanov, Lexo Toradze, Sergey Babayan, Alexander Shtarkman, and many others, officially and unofficialy. I heard, Yundi Li was thinking of stopping for awhile his career to come to study with him. Yep, it is the same Lev Naumov, who for many years was Neuhaus' assistant and friend (and yep, the same Neuhaus, whose book you just have suggested). 

And dear Iumonito, I don't know who are you, not even your name, so I am very sorry,  but considering the tone you took from the very beginning of this discussion, I don't give a *** about your ideas about heavy pianos, or me as a teacher. I will carry what I have learnt from one of the greatest teachers of our time, with whom I was privileged to study for many years, and whom I heard with my own ears, screaming at the lesson at somebody named Andrei Gavrilov playing Islamey, that he needs to find a heavy action piano to practice it. If it tells you something--take it, if not--it is not my problem.

Oh yes,

Re: Horowitz sound. Yes, with all my love and admiration to Horowitz, unfortunately I have to admit he does not have a beatiful sound. He has thousands gradations and colors of the sound, but it is something different. One of the reasons for that is he has (as Gould, BTW) strictly finger type of technique, meaning, he does not use weight for sound production. Immediately the piano responds quite percussively. Very light instrument, with highly laquored hammers, does not contribute, but rather is a result of Horowitz' sound aesthetics. Listen to late Gilels or the same Rubinstein, to see what I mean.

Sztorfas,

You have already read quite a few completely contrary opinions. Just take what suits you, and make your decision.


 

Offline stzorfas

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #29 on: September 19, 2005, 11:07:46 AM
Boy!! What a hot topic! I had no idea it would stimulate such debate.  I
appreciate everyones input.  I think that from a practical standpoint I have to get
a piano with a hard and stiff action.  I went looking for pianos yesterday.
I may have to get a rebuilt steinway which is still very expensive.  As a trade in I
don't think I will get anywhere near what I paid for the August Forster and I enjoy
playing this piano a lot ( the tone is beautiful) so I intend on keeping it.
If anyone has any suggestions for brands of pianos with a stiff action ( besides Steinway) I would appreciate it.  I also need to work on my technique and to play
with mass and weight.  Thanks again! 8)

Offline xvimbi

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Re: STEINWAY HEAVY ACTION (TORTURE)
Reply #30 on: September 19, 2005, 12:02:05 PM
Boy!! What a hot topic! I had no idea it would stimulate such debate.  I
appreciate everyones input.  I think that from a practical standpoint I have to get
a piano with a hard and stiff action.

Make sure you have convinced yourself that the majority of the pianos out there indeed have a much stiffer action than your own one, and that your teacher's piano is not an exception.
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

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