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Learux #3185897 01/17/22 08:47 AM
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Hammers are made of felt, and natural felt will have lanolin on it (if anyone has handled sheep and their shearing will know this). Bleaching felt white will remove a great deal of this, and I see these brilliant marbles in more than a few budget pianos. Lanolin will also dry out over the years, old felt rugs will crack if you bend them, old felt hammers will often turn to dust under a sanding paddle. Losing elasticity is a normal age=related process, and old hammers will rarely be capable of voicing that will match new, resilient felt. However, steamed relaxation of the felt seems to create a longer lasting, and more controllable process than mechanically breaking up old fibers.

These are interesting thoughts. I find myself these days saying to people with 120 year old pianos "Half the components in a piano are made of wool, felted or woven. Imagine a 120 year old wool sweater - what state do you think it'll be in?....."

I'm heartened to see the mention of steam relaxation of hammer felt. I've had quite good success with this method, and it seems to last OK.

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Originally Posted by David Boyce
[quote]I find myself these days saying to people with 120 year old pianos "Half the components in a piano are made of wool, felted or woven. Imagine a 120 year old wool sweater - what state do you think it'll be in?....."

At the risk of seeming like an utter lunatic, I present 163 year old original factory Steinway hammers.

To even begin to detail everything that was done to them over a period of seven years would take a ridiculously long time.

They'd been barely played and were in mindbogglingly good condition.

From low A up to the mid treble they'd been covered with leather and the felt was quite literally untouched under them.

Shaped with up to a final 600 grit, only single needle voicing (as taught to me one on one by Fred Drasch of Steinway), and all juicing was with a special kind of Lexan plastic dissolved in acetone (which was given to me by Andre Svetlichny of Baldwin at a Tanglewood seminar).

The volume struck me as underpowered, so I epoxied onto the hammer tails dozens of tungsten disks in the 0.2 to 1 gram range.

The saga of getting them perfectly aligned to the strings in all planes was... wow.

George Winston says he likes the result.


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Originally Posted by An Old Square
[quote=David Boyce]
Quote
I find myself these days saying to people with 120 year old pianos "Half the components in a piano are made of wool, felted or woven. Imagine a 120 year old wool sweater - what state do you think it'll be in?....."

At the risk of seeming like an utter lunatic, I present 163 year old original factory Steinway hammers.

To even begin to detail everything that was done to them over a period of seven years would take a ridiculously long time.

They'd been barely played and were in mindbogglingly good condition.

From low A up to the mid treble they'd been covered with leather and the felt was quite literally untouched under them.

Shaped with up to a final 600 grit, only single needle voicing (as taught to me one on one by Fred Drasch of Steinway), and all juicing was with a special kind of Lexan plastic dissolved in acetone (which was given to me by Andre Svetlichny of Baldwin at a Tanglewood seminar).

The volume struck me as underpowered, so I epoxied onto the hammer tails dozens of tungsten disks in the 0.2 to 1 gram range.

The saga of getting them perfectly aligned to the strings in all planes was... wow.

George Winston says he likes the result.


I enjoyed watching and listening to your video very much, An Old Square! It sounded great, and looked even better. What a fantastic job you did restoring it!

My hat is off to you, my friend! smile

Rick


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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by An Old Square
[quote=David Boyce]
Quote
I find myself these days saying to people with 120 year old pianos "Half the components in a piano are made of wool, felted or woven. Imagine a 120 year old wool sweater - what state do you think it'll be in?....."

At the risk of seeming like an utter lunatic, I present 163 year old original factory Steinway hammers.

To even begin to detail everything that was done to them over a period of seven years would take a ridiculously long time.

They'd been barely played and were in mindbogglingly good condition.

From low A up to the mid treble they'd been covered with leather and the felt was quite literally untouched under them.

Shaped with up to a final 600 grit, only single needle voicing (as taught to me one on one by Fred Drasch of Steinway), and all juicing was with a special kind of Lexan plastic dissolved in acetone (which was given to me by Andre Svetlichny of Baldwin at a Tanglewood seminar).

The volume struck me as underpowered, so I epoxied onto the hammer tails dozens of tungsten disks in the 0.2 to 1 gram range.

The saga of getting them perfectly aligned to the strings in all planes was... wow.

George Winston says he likes the result.


I enjoyed watching and listening to your video very much, An Old Square! It sounded great, and looked even better. What a fantastic job you did restoring it!

My hat is off to you, my friend! smile

Rick

Thank you very very very much. I decided this was the last restoration of my career, and did not care anymore about conventional wisdom or tradition. For example, the nameboard felt is green instead of red, because green contrasted with the rosewood far more interestingly. And so on for the whole thing.

PS Should mention this thing plays 104 notes lol, in case anyone is confused by some of this recording.

The 85 originals, plus, the 19 notes from C3 to F#4, play the octave fifth harmonic of the note being played when the left pedal is depressed instead of the fundamental.

The black rod seen in between the soundboard and strings is part of the mechanism that does that.

The amount of pressure on the left pedal determines the kind of tone the octave fifth harmonic has, from distorted and overdriven to extremely pure.

To date, Santa Fe concert pianist Melanie Monsour is the only person to have spent enough time with the Oct5 Effect (as I call it) to even *begin* to achieve some practical mastery over it.

Working on getting Dave Grusin (client for decades but not recently) to check it out. If anyone can master it it'd be him.

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What kind of wire did you restring it with?


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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
What kind of wire did you restring it with?

After researching the uh, heck, out of the options (high tension low tension high carbon low carbon...) and the opinions of others with credibility, I just steel wooled the rust off the original 1859 wires and used them.

There's a few tied off knots in the speaking length of some, but I doubt that affects anything.

wink

Kidding.

KIDDING.

This piano is tuned flat, for a number of complicated reasons, all of which pointed TO tuning it flat. It's 100 cents flat to A-442, settled on that after tuning it to any number of pitches.

Did a couple tests in the tenor with Roslau and Mapes Gold, not much diff to my old ears at that tension, so went with Mapes, both for plain wires and bass string duplication.

The stringing scale was off-the-map "why they do that???", so spent some time with the calculator and created a fresh scale which seems to have worked.

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Have you retained the original scale? Chris Chernobieff has an 1860 Steinway Square that he is redoing, and his scale is bonkers also (I have seen it), but it looks like strings were replaced hodge-podge. It would be nice to know what Steinway's intentions were.

Since the 19th century was a time of significant development of the strength of piano wire, it would be nice to know where this piano fell in the scheme of things.


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Not sure how much help I can be. Pretty sure I didn't save my notes about that. Here's what I can remember.

Not one wire was close enough to any modern standard gauge to be very sure, most seemed to be in between sizes. They were the original wires, so I assume there'd been a lot of stretching and therefore thinning. Lots of oxidation and rust on top of that. The handful that'd been replaced were no help, a few were clearly the wrong gauge (as in not close to the original wire gauges, which were themselves useless).

I recall that they'd used (what seems to have been see above) the same gauge for far too many notes before going to the next gauge up or down. Don't recall any I might have called a half-size like 13 1/2, all whole gauges (more or less). I also recall there were no thick gauges like 19 and up. Seem to recall a LOOOOOOOOOONG sequence where they should have switched gauges at least twice but stayed on the same one, maybe 15? It was so off I saw no point to recording it.

There were no penciled in numbers on the bridges, I think but am not sure that I penciled in MY gauges, would have to check, I finished the stringing years ago now.

I am far far FAR from any sort of expert at creating new stringing scales. This was the only piano I was ever really forced to try that with. Did just enough study and research to create one on this. Stubborn pride and "I can do this myself-ness" kept me from reaching to those who ARE pros (like Chris probably is) to get feedback on how well I'd done.

So, I'd be happy to figure out the scale I ended up putting on, but as I said, I'm no authority on designing stringing scales, this was my first last only attempt, and Chris may be better off doing his de novo and not putting too much stock into what I did. But quite happy to share that, for whatever it may be worth. Would have to go look and see. smile

Learux #3187305 01/21/22 12:14 PM
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My tuner came by, he turned what I initially thought as overly bright into a few finely tuned unisons that now hold sustain forever.

It was 6 months ago since my last tuning............


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Learux #3187315 01/21/22 12:49 PM
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Good news. To round off the discussion would you say what notes they were?


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Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Learux #3187320 01/21/22 01:11 PM
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Notes were C6 and up a few


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Originally Posted by An Old Square
===SNIP====

At the risk of seeming like an utter lunatic, I present 163 year old original factory Steinway hammers.

To even begin to detail everything that was done to them over a period of seven years would take a ridiculously long time.

They'd been barely played and were in mindbogglingly good condition.

From low A up to the mid treble they'd been covered with leather and the felt was quite literally untouched under them.

Shaped with up to a final 600 grit, only single needle voicing (as taught to me one on one by Fred Drasch of Steinway), and all juicing was with a special kind of Lexan plastic dissolved in acetone (which was given to me by Andre Svetlichny of Baldwin at a Tanglewood seminar).
Not only do you NOT seem like a lunatic of any sort, I love what you did with that piano. It is quite beautiful. It sings.

Is there any way we can convince you to make a video showing and explaining the single needle voicing technique you learned from Fred Drasch? It would be a shame if that knowledge was lost.

As to Svetlichny's magic juice, is he still alive? Is there any way to get the formula? And if not, can you at least share how you used it?

Heck - put a paypal.me link on your YouTube video. I'd pony up a little cash for the expertise.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
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"Not only do you NOT seem like a lunatic of any sort, I love what you did with that piano. It is quite beautiful. It sings."

Golly gee whiz thank you!



"Is there any way we can convince you to make a video showing and explaining the single needle voicing technique you learned from Fred Drasch? It would be a shame if that knowledge was lost."

Thanks but utter nonsense! Any number of people here are vastly better at the art of voicing than me! Mr. Drasch generously taught many people over the course of his life, and I was just one of them. My best voicings were, as they say on the old jazz album liners about OK but not outstanding bass players, "workmanlike". LOL. A 6-7 outa 10. I had fortes, but voicing was not one of them. But no one ever asked for a refund either. wink


"As to Svetlichny's magic juice, is he still alive? Is there any way to get the formula? And if not, can you at least share how you used it?"

Andre passed away some years ago from leukemia. He was dying at the time he taught me (us, in a class) but we did not know that. As for the juice he taught us to use, at graduation he gave all six of us a sizeable quantity of plastic granules, which when dissolved in acetone (differing strengths) and applied to different parts of the hammer, produced some incredible results. It's some form of (but not chemically exactly) Lexan, of the specific type used in airplane windows. It cures in seconds unless you're soaking the entire hammer, then it takes a few minutes at most. The full effect of what you just did is 100% there when it cures and stable and long lasting. It's very easy to needle down, and even gives tactile feedback. I love the stuff. I used what he gave me for 20 (?) years, and still have enough left to juice hundreds of hammers. I used it in critical concert and studio settings without a care and got many artist kudos.

If there's a real chemist here who can do a real analysis of it I'll send a small sample.

Andres NYT obituary.
https://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/20/...ner-of-concert-pianos-for-the-stars.html

Last edited by An Old Square; 01/25/22 01:22 AM.
Learux #3188345 01/25/22 04:22 AM
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As it happens, I just voiced a concert piano yesterday with Renner Blues. My only relevant observation is they are not the easiest to tame and the top 2 octaves were hard to force to my will and I never got the tone I wanted, but the customer was happy. My recommendation would be to try the appropriate hammer for the piano. There were a grave mismatch on this piano.

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