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Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano (Read 539 times)

Offline pencilart3

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Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
« on: October 06, 2020, 07:59:56 PM »
I'm boutta get my baby grand tuned and other than a couple of tunings, nothing's been done in the area of maintenance on this thing in 20+ years. The hammers are hard, extremely bright, and definitely grooved. I'm a college student so I wince at the thought of forking over big bucks for somebody to poke my hammers with some needles if I could do it myself. Is it something a non-professional can safely do if they put some time into it?
You might have seen one of my videos without knowing it was that nut from the forum
youtube.com/noahjohnson1810

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #1 on: October 06, 2020, 10:24:12 PM »
Hey Noah.  I've done it, but a piano tuner could do it w/o much additional cost of a tuning.  And they have the right size pin.  But they would probably also need to sand down the felts (those grooves) with a proper and consistent arc..  which would cost a bit more... My tuner only charged me $150 and did a great job - (where others have failed at twice the cost).
Is that '1810'  at the end of your link a significant date? like Chopin's  ?  :)
I hope you are doing well. 
4'33"

Offline derschoenebahnhof

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #2 on: October 06, 2020, 11:19:24 PM »
I have done it too. In my experience, tuners aren't necessarily experienced in voicing because - my guess - few customers ask for it or even know that it can be done (and not all customers have ears sensitive enough so that voicing problems bother them). In addition voicing is very subjective.

The first tuner I hired to do voicing did a lousy and costly job. He went very deep and some hammers still lack brightness at this time (though it has gotten a bit better with my softening the other hammers around).

The next tuner managed to soften the hammers really quickly without going deep using a wide angle needle and I learned from that. He also used a 3 needle tool to "fluff up" the tip of the hammers. After he botched a tuning and unisons went bad after a week, I switched tuner again.

I asked my third tuner (and still current) to brighten and soften some notes and she used chemicals (I have read others RPTs are not too much in favor of chemicals and prefer mechanical means only - needles etc.). It is easier to soften a bright hammer (voice "down"), but it's much harder to voice "up" a hammer that is a bit too quiet.

My Yamaha tends to become brighter after a tuning, so I give a pass or 2 with my wide angle needle, I don't go deep and the effect fades after a few months. I also managed to brighten a few hammers by lightly filing and pounding a bit with a hammer.

If you are reasonably agile with your fingers and follow some precautions like resting the hammers on a voicing block you should be able to do some things on your own. Now if nothing was done for 20 years, it probably needs a lot more than just softening, and this requires expertise to be done right.

I also fixed a bunch of unisons on my own. Yes I read all the warnings and OMG the strings could explode and make me blind and what not. But in the end, I managed to fix these unisons without damage and can enjoy the piano more until the next tuning. I just cannot stand a wobbling unison... ugh.

Offline quantum

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #3 on: October 07, 2020, 02:38:03 PM »
Let us know how it goes if you do proceed.  If you are able to do voicing on your own, you probably will do fine with tuning your own piano. 

I started tuning with fixing up sour unisons.  Ended up enjoying it, and now do complete tunings on my piano on a frequent basis.  It is nice not to wait for the next tuning appointment, just to fix a few notes.  It also comes in handy when I want to record at home, as the tuning can be polished up just before recording. 

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline derschoenebahnhof

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #4 on: October 08, 2020, 04:17:12 AM »
Quantum,
I hope I am not derailing this thread, but just curious, how did you learn tuning, and how do you properly stretch the octaves according to your instrument? I see there is software out there that can help, but it's extremely expensive.
Thanks!

Offline pencilart3

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #5 on: October 08, 2020, 04:41:16 PM »
Thank you all for the responses. I'm about to get it tuned, so I think while he's here, I'll just ask him to do it for me (given that this will be the first time the piano's ever been voiced) and I think I'll do it myself the next time it needs it. That way, I'll have a sound to shoot for (assuming this guy does a good job) and I'll hopefully have an easier time since it won't be so long.

@themeandvariation, you are the first person to actually know what the 1810 was there for. It's been my instagram handle since 2015 and nobody's ever asked :P

And, @quantum, if I do it, I'll probably film a short YT video doing it, and if I ruin the thing and have a catastrophe, at least others can learn from it.
You might have seen one of my videos without knowing it was that nut from the forum
youtube.com/noahjohnson1810

Offline lhorwinkle

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #6 on: October 11, 2020, 02:43:03 PM »
Good choice. Leave the work to someone who knows how.

When you don't know what you're doing ... you will surely regret doing it.

Either learn first, then do.
... or ...
Don't learn, and let it get done by someone qualified.

Offline quantum

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #7 on: October 14, 2020, 01:04:46 AM »
Quantum,
I hope I am not derailing this thread, but just curious, how did you learn tuning, and how do you properly stretch the octaves according to your instrument? I see there is software out there that can help, but it's extremely expensive.
Thanks!

Mainly by reading texts and observing why my piano tech did. 

When I have time, my preference is to set the temperament octave by ear.  If I need to do a quick tuning I'll use software as an aid to set the temperament, and tune everything else by ear. 

As for stretch, I listened carefully to recordings, as well as the many pianos in my university practice rooms.  Some stretch turnings I preferred to others, and I simply made notes of what I might like to try at home.  In order to place the stretch, I compare how pitches at the extremes of the piano relate to ones in the middle of the range.  Using the scenario, if a large chord was to be played in repertoire that uses both the middle and extremes of the piano, would the stretch fit with notes in the middle of the range. 

For software, check out: TuneLab 97 (old, unsupported and free) or PianoLab (shareware).

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline pencilart3

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #8 on: October 16, 2020, 03:04:55 AM »
TuneLab 97 (old, unsupported and free)

Often the best of the best, as long as they are operable. It's just a matter of time though for such software, sadly.
You might have seen one of my videos without knowing it was that nut from the forum
youtube.com/noahjohnson1810

Offline derschoenebahnhof

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Re: Can I voice (poke hammers) on my own piano
«Reply #9 on: October 16, 2020, 03:51:50 PM »
Quote
Mainly by reading texts and observing why my piano tech did.
Well at least I can do the first part. The second part is getting much harder as the tech needs to wear a mask and be alone in the room.

Quote
as well as the many pianos in my university practice rooms
Humble amateurs like me don't have that option :P

Other tuning apps I hear about: Easy Piano Tuner (Android, iOS, $25), Entropy (Open Source non profit).