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Piano action on replaced hammers? (Read 1274 times)

Offline dogperson

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Piano action on replaced hammers?
« on: September 18, 2015, 09:43:16 PM »
Hello All:

A little advice regarding piano action?  I will be replacing my hammers on a 1900 Stieff upright.  My piano technician has advised that my action is heavier than normal; although not measured yet, somewhere around 65-75 weight.  If I am replacing hammers, and then will regulate the piano, should I consider a lighter action?    I love the tone of this piano and want to retain that, and I am certainly accustomed to the heavy action, but would a lighter action adjustment be better  for fast passages ?   I do apologize if I am not asking the question the correct way, and I hope you understand the intent.    Thoughts and recommendations would be appreciated.


Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Piano action on replaced hammers?
«Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 09:40:15 PM »
Nobody can tell someone else what they "should do" with an old upright piano if they love it. I will say there is a certain sense of diminishing return with old uprights beyond just general tuning and upkeep. Monetarily speaking most are not worth spending a bunch of money on to hot rod them. And some of that is piano specific and also location oriented. The thing is around here old uprights are unsalable basically, I doubt anyone would do what you are considering having done when they are trying to figure out how they can get the thing out of their house for free.  No offense intended, just the cold hard facts.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Piano action on replaced hammers?
«Reply #2 on: September 19, 2015, 09:49:49 PM »
Nobody can tell someone else what they "should do" with an old upright piano if they love it. I will say there is a certain sense of diminishing return with old uprights beyond just general tuning and upkeep. Monetarily speaking most are not worth spending a bunch of money on to hot rod them. And some of that is piano specific and also location oriented. The thing is around here old uprights are unsalable basically, I doubt anyone would do what you are considering having done when they are trying to figure out how they can get the thing out of their house for free.  No offense intended, just the cold hard facts.

I appreciate your opinion 'to ditch the thing, but keeping it is the right think for me.. the quality of tone, construction, and action far exceed what I could purchase, and in a 52 inch upright.  My total investment will be a fraction of a new Yamaha, and with the darker tone I prefer... not to mention an African mahogany cabinet. 

  I am asking for advise on the weight of the keys with the regulation, not whether I should ditch the piano.

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Piano action on replaced hammers?
«Reply #3 on: September 19, 2015, 10:00:32 PM »
I appreciate your opinion 'to ditch the thing, but keeping it is the right think for me.. the quality of tone, construction, and action far exceed what I could purchase, and in a 52 inch upright.  My total investment will be a fraction of a new Yamaha, and with the darker tone I prefer... not to mention an African mahogany cabinet.  

  I am asking for advise on the weight of the keys with the regulation, not whether I should ditch the piano.

Ok, actually I didn't say "you should ditch it", I said nobody can tell you that actually. But others probably wouldn't do it/the work. So with your intent strongly established that it is valuable to you, just watch out for this in your assessment. As you lower key weight watch out that the ability to repeat in your action doesn't get diminished, that you can still play fast passages. I wouldn't go too far in lightening up the action in other words. Your tech I'm sure is able to guide you though. Ask him what / if regulation alone will gain you anything. Hopefully you don't have to get into weight balancing with lead weights ( just all the more cost etc)

I had an old upright too once, about the same vintage as yours. the problem with it was exactly that, as my repertoire increased I realized the action couldn't keep up any longer. The tone was wonderful on this old upright too. Back around 1980 or so I sold it for $125 and bought a used grand piano ( near the same vintage actually) that I still own. Now after all these decades it could use a little work and is worth having it done or doing it myself ( I've done quite a lot of tech work over the years).
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Piano action on replaced hammers?
«Reply #4 on: September 19, 2015, 10:44:13 PM »
Thanks for the advice about not lightening the action much-- would I love a grand of around the same vintage?  Absolutely-- but I could only do this if I replaced my bed with a piano.. and yes, I have even considered that.  The large upright concept is all I can manage in terms of space.  And this old girl gives me the dark tone I love.  I'm just not a bright tone piano kid.

My total $$ investment will be really low as the strings had been replaced before I purchased it, and the soundboard is great, new springs and felt.  Under $2,500 including purchase and moving. The hammers are certainly worn but the sound still rings well, so I am just planning for when it will be needed to replace the hammers and how the action will be regulated.


Offline daniloperusina

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Re: Piano action on replaced hammers?
«Reply #5 on: September 20, 2015, 08:04:09 PM »
I would say that if it was originally a high quality piano, then it was surely built to certain specifications, including "weight" of action.
Maybe a good idea is to first ask your piano tech to investigate as to why the action is too heavy. Where is the fault, so to speak.
Once he finds out why, he will know how to fix it, and probably at what cost and so on.
If the piano feels worth the while and the money, go ahead. It's obviously much better to have it back to near original specifications and functionality. Then you'll have it back to nearly how the builders designed it, and it will surely play even better than now, the 100+ years that have passed considering...

Offline indianajo

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Re: Piano action on replaced hammers?
«Reply #6 on: September 21, 2015, 01:43:18 PM »
If your hands and wrists are normal size for European or African peoples, I don't see lightening the action to be an advantage.  If you are going to perform on stage, being trained to cope with the heavier action of a grand is an advantage.  Serious students pay $$$$ for a Steinway studio piano, to practice on something with a heavy action.  So the heavy action of this piano could be considered an advantage to serious students, not a defect. 
I need a light action due to my slight hands,  and a very bright piano, so my requirements are the opposite of yours, but people are different.  I find a $600 Baldwin Acrosonic available around here endlessly, exactly fills my needs.  But dark muffled tone is more easily found in an old upright with 100 pounds of decorative wood in the front, and a thick non-resonant soundboard.