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#3205573 03/31/22 07:14 PM
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I did read the previous threads on blow distance and have a more specific question.

I have had my 2004 RX3 for about 7 months now and just recently downloaded the Kawai specs. Although I had my piano regulated and tuned after purchase I discover my Blow distance was about 42 mm, not to the spec of 46 per Kawai's instructions.

So I went ahead and reset the blow distance to spec. It has been a very positive change, increasing the ability to play dynamics and making the piano more resonant and powerful at ff. It also feels easier to play (less work for a given volume). So It seems to have been appropriate and without negative affects.

Two questions:
Why would anyone reduce the blow distance in the first place? I assume this wouldn't happen as a course of wear.
And - wouldn't a tech check this for spec while regulating the piano?

at any rate,


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You don't understand that? I don't understand why someone would want a piano to be more powerful at ff, as if modern pianos are not too powerful for the average room to the point of potentially causing hearing loss... not all people are the same...

If you change blow distance you have to change also keydip, otherwise aftertouch will be off.

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Well, I would want my piano to function as designed and control the ff with touch, not by changing the specs. I don't think a 6'2" piano is causing hearing loss. I hoped for better more intelligent comments from this forum .. .


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Simply put, with everything else unchanged, decreasing blow distance increases aftertouch. Some performers like that feeling.


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Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
Well, I would want my piano to function as designed and control the ff with touch, not by changing the specs. .

But in the first post you say that now that you have chanced the hammer blow distance to the original specs 'It has been a very positive change, increasing the ability to play dynamics and making the piano more resonant and powerful at ff. It also feels easier to play'. What if your next piano only has that touch when you deviate from the specs? Will you still hold on to the specs? Not every person is the same and not every brand/type of piano will have the same touch with factory specs. I prefer to have a lot of control when I play p or pp. I don't like to play Forte. I also don't like bread with a burger and all kinds of vegetables drowning in ketchup or whatever sauce. But restaurants serve it so I guess there are people that like it.

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Also I highly doubt that a 42mm blow distance would cause the piano to not function as designed. Parameters are customizable to the performer's preferences and I don't think such a setting would go against the way the piano was designed to function. Of course it's different if we're talking about extreme customizations, but 42mm is not extreme.


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46mm of blow is certainly desirable, but changing the blow does change other things as well.

If key dip is ideal, and after touch is ideal before reducing blow distance, then increasing the blow distance will reduce after touch from its ideal setting. On the other hand, if the piano has excessive after touch before reducing the blow, the change in blow distance will likely improve after touch.

Even on the best of pianos, the published specification is primarily a declaration of intent on the part of the manufacturer. Some deviation from specification is often necessary to make the whole system work.

My university has a 2012 Fazioli F278. It came with a manual that detailed the regulation specifications. The piano has just been returned to our newly renovated performance hall, but it spent 5 years seeing very minimal use. On inspecting the piano in advance of return to the hall, I discovered that it had excessive key dip. Hammer blow was at spec, and after touch was a tad excessive, so I had a bit of room for adjustment. But even after reducing key dip to bring the after touch to about .045 inches, key dip was significantly deeper than the published specification.

Looking at resources in my library, I saw that David Anderson suggested an ideal key dip of 10.2 to 10.3 mm, and that Igrec allowed for a key dip of up to 11mm in some concert pianos. I don't have my regulating data immediately and hand, but I think I am marginally over the 11mm. Sharps are almost burying.

So what do I do? I'm certainly not going to mess with action ratio. I'm really reluctant to shorten the blow distance beyond spec. Nobody has been complaining about the regulation of the piano, so I'm electing to allow key dip to remain deeper than ideal, in order to maintain sufficient after touch.

But my point is that I'm having to choose a compromise. Another tech can come along and criticize what I've done, pointing to excessive key dip. And by the specs, he will be right. But unless I'm willing to do something like clipping balance rail punchings, shimming the balance rail, or moving capstans, I'm stuck with having to make this compromise. I have no intention of taking invasive measures on this grade of piano, given the high level of satisfaction it is currently providing for users.

All that being said, I have, out of necessity, messed around royally with our 1969 Steinway D and our 1977 (Aeolian era) Mason and Hamlin CC. But even after messing around, compromises are necessary.


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Just like in the old days of carburetor adjustment and tuning, a mechanic who knows his stuff has no use for "specs"...it all gets done analog according to what works best for that engine. Specs just get you into the ballpark. Then knowledge and experience take over to finish the job.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Correction to my post above:

. . . if the piano has excessive after touch before increasing the blow . . .


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Greetings,
If there are no complaints about 11 mm dip, there is no problem, though I think I may have reduced aftertouch to .030" to minimize the dip's excess if the sharps are near burying. If the aftertouch is consistent, there is less needed for security. If one is going to set dip consistently, then the inherent variety of aftertouch will argue for extra, but since I set the dip BY aftertouch, it can vary from piano to piano without causing complaints.

I still prefer dip to stay under .400". The 'vintage' Steinways did quite well at .390" (usually), but now, with 17mm knuckle placement to accommodate heavier hammers, I have seen some late models with .410" or more. This may be the preference for someone that plays a lot of big, thunderous, pieces but I wonder what the Chopin specialists think about such deeper keydip ?
Regards,

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Ok, thanks for these thoughtful comments. So It seems that this was probably changed to accommodate the previous owner's "touch" on the piano. My concern was that it would have been done to change the tonal qualities in lieu of voicing.

I am no expert but I really do like the touch and tone of the piano more with this adjustment. I have a tech coming to tune next week so I will check with him about the changes and see what he recommends.

I appreciate all of your help!


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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Just like in the old days of carburetor adjustment and tuning, a mechanic who knows his stuff has no use for "specs"...it all gets done analog according to what works best for that engine. Specs just get you into the ballpark. Then knowledge and experience take over to finish the job.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

I enjoy reading your posts. They are always technically accurate, reasonable, responsible, careful, ethical, well informed, presented in a way that educates without lecturing, and is the obvious product of years of very successful experience in the real world.

That said I more than wholeheartedly endorse the above quote.

I've done hundreds of hammer shapings that really should have been a set of new hammers, but budget, and have had to learn how to do concert feeling regulations after when specs have lost their meaning, due to the mix of spec parts and nonspec parts.

Regulating grands to concert levels for the last 40 years has been one of my life's greatest joys, and one that's kinda cool and elite. How many people you meet at parties are going to go "Hey, wow, I do concert grand piano regulating for major artists too! Say, at what point is replacing the knuckles justified?"

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Regarding blow distance--I saw a class, maybe at the PTG Convention in Tucson. I'd have to look in my notes, but it could have been Dale Erwin.

Anyway, a experiment was carried out on a Yamaha grand in a sound booth with microphones at a variety of angles. They changed a variety of parameters, including blow distance, to see what actually had the greatest effect on piano tone and power. Blow distance seemed to make little difference. One thing that did was good hammer-string mating.

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One more comment emphasizing hammer-string mating: many, if not most, of the lower-level grands I see, suffer from poor mating. It really causes poor, non-coherent tone and noise. High-quality pianos like a Kawai will be well-mated at the factory, but cheaper brands not so much. Even with good pianos, the strings can become unleveled over time, so it should be done with the regulation.

I’ve tried to mate hammers and strings on lower brands but not always with much success. For one thing, I’m not terrifically skilled at it. And, it can take a long time, which might cause cost problems for the customer.

To level the strings, first everything has to be level from the factory: plate, bridges, agraffes, hammer travel. But they might not be, and you can’t bend the string enough. So you have to file the hammers to mate the unleveled strings. More problems arise, and that takes even more time.

So I would say that if the best tone and power are desired, the first thing to do, before messing around with parts replacement or acoustic isolation, is to have a technician check hammer flange friction, shape and voice the hammers, and make sure they are mated to well-leveled strings.

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Hi Scott - thanks for that detailed information. Maybe my impressions are placebo effect but whatever works. I have no plans for parts replacement as the action feels quite good and is in very good condition. I did have a tech come do regulation, including shaping the hammers. I have looked at the hammers to check for centering and to make sure that the string indentations (although quite shallow at this point) look even.

I am having another technician (with a very good reputation) come in to tune and will get his opinion if any other work is needed. The piano sounds quite good and I am very happy with it. Although I do want to have some voicing done in the lower registers depending on the tech's opinion. I am only about level 4 on piano but have been a musician (bass and cello) all my life so am very picky about my tuning. You know how those string players are smile



appreciate all the help.


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Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
I am only about level 4 on piano but have been a musician (bass and cello) all my life so am very picky about my tuning. You know how those string players are smile

Speaking of tuning -- have you considered alternate temperaments?

On this very site I have learned a ton about non-equal temperaments and in fact have my piano tuned to EBVT, something I discovered here. In fact, wanting to try different temperaments led me to learn about tuning. I am far from proficient but it is a fascinating aspect of piano ownership if you are so inclined.


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Originally Posted by Scott Cole, RPT
Blow distance seemed to make little difference. One thing that did was good hammer-string mating.

Years ago, I was playing my Yamaha C7 grand hard, and heard a loud noise that was not very musical. A string had broken in the second octave or so above middle C, don't remember the exact note.

I took my digital caliper and measured the diameter of the string, and estimated the length, and called the local RPT and asked if he'd sell me some music wire to replace my broken string. He's a nice guy and has helped me out a time or two. Anyway, he put the small coil of the right size music wire in his mailbox, and I left the money in an envelope in his mailbox, because he was not home when I went by to get the music wire.

The string replacement involved two tuning pins, as the strings were looped around the rear hitch pin. The string replacement went well. I backed the pins out just far enough, and preformed the becket and coil, and afterward, the spacing between the bottom of the string coil and plate matched the others.

As I started tightening the pins, and pulling the strings up to pitch, the note did not sound as punchy and loud as before, like it has lost some power. The tuning was good, but just not as much power/volume as before. I got to looking at the new string(s) and realized I needed to do some string leveling. I had made a string hook, that works well to this day, and pulled the new strings upward with the string hook, near the capo bar, until they looked level. And, eureka! The power of the note was back, and the note sounded as good as it always did.

I learned something that day about string leveling and hammer to string mating. It is important, in more ways than one.

Rick


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Rick,

That's a very good experience to relate. Yes, it's pretty amazing how even just a few .000" can make a difference. I have had many occasions where a note (often in the bass) just won't tune cleanly or has a funny whiny sound. I take a few seconds to mate the hammer to the strings and in a very high % of cases the problem is fixed. You cannot tell by looking at the string grooves if the relationship is correct. It must be tested.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Originally Posted by Steve W
Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
I am only about level 4 on piano but have been a musician (bass and cello) all my life so am very picky about my tuning. You know how those string players are smile

Speaking of tuning -- have you considered alternate temperaments?

On this very site I have learned a ton about non-equal temperaments and in fact have my piano tuned to EBVT, something I discovered here. In fact, wanting to try different temperaments led me to learn about tuning. I am far from proficient but it is a fascinating aspect of piano ownership if you are so inclined.

I learn a lot on this site as well, but I don't tune my own piano. I have in the past but don't have the ears or the patience anymore. Old Square recommended a tuner here in Santa Fe who is reputed to be an artist so I will trust him. It is quite amazing what someone with excellent ears and a good sense of musicality can do with a piano. An ex-girlfriend's father tuned in Hollywood for everyone and was one of those artists. He was in great demand and made very good money tuning. So I have a lot of respect for someone who can really tune an instrument well.

Peter - I hear the importance of hammer alignment to strings and your comment about not being able to tell by visual inspection. I suspected as much and will ask the tech to evaluate it at some point soon. There are definitely one or two notes that don't have the same clarity/brilliance, Not sure what adjective to use so I imagine they are not properly set up.


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Hammers which are not mated properly are easy to figure out. Use a hook to lift the hammer gently to the string, lift the damper, and then strum the strings. If the hammer does not mute all the strings, then they are not mated. (If it does not mute any of the strings, you are being too gentle.) You can visually check whether the hammer is not aligned left to right.


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