Piano Action Rebuilding

I’ve taken on an action rebuilding project recently. The piano is a Steinway model L from the 40’s. The piano is being rebuilt by my friends and fellow PTG members Jim and Amy Tiernan of Dog House Pianos. I specialize in action work, tuning and voicing and am happy to have somebody else do […]

What is a Duplex Scale?

A duplex scale is a length of the string, other than the speaking length, that is intended to vibrate sympathetically. That’s my definition, I have not idea how they define it at the Oscar Walcker School. There is often a rear duplex, but there can also be a front duplex, making it a triplex?

The speaking length is the part of the string that is hit by the hammer and creates the basic tone coming from the piano. Rear duplex string lengths are the most common and are those that are on the far side of the bridge, between the rear bridge pins and the hitch pin. Front duplex strings lengths are found between the tuning pin and the capo bar or agraffe. Usually front duplexes are only in the capo bar area. The front lengths in the agraffe section are almost always muted with felt.

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What’s A Wippen?

A wippen is the heart and soul of the grand piano action. With some aspects of piano design and construction there is a wealth of variety but not so much anymore with the wippen.

The top two wippens in the photo represent the most fundamental designs (yes, you nit pickers there are more, but […]

Steingraeber – Action and Reaction

Steingraeber is one of the world’s great pianos and I do not expect anybody with credibility to disagree with me. Like the other pianos at this level it has its own sound and style which may or may not appeal to you, but it is a great piano in any technical regard and has won enthusiastic followers the world over.

I really love the Steingraeber piano. I’ve played and worked on many and have found them to be amazing pianos in quality of  construction and tone and touch. I love the white key bushing felt instead of the customary red. I personally am reluctant to shape hammers with the extreme diamond point that frequently comes out of the factory, but I will happily maintain such a shape if Steingraeber says I should. Udo Steingraeber is one of the great men of the industry and Alex Karsten, his Klavierbaumeister, is skilled, friendly and down to earth.
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Humidity Must Be Under Your Control

Do you have a nice piano? Then you must have these: a good room humidifier with a large tank (at least one) and at least 2 hygrometers.  Two hygrometers are needed because they will not read the same and you need to act on the average. Place them in different parts of the room to make sure the room has even humidity levels. […]

HEP Guy on Youtube

I’ve been working on building up a collection of piano tech related items on my Youtube channel. Hopefully the quality will follow a path of continuous improvement.

Feurich 218 M

I took a slightly different path with the 218 and got help. I asked Boaz Kirschenbaum of Cherry Tree Pianos to recommend a configuration and perform the necessary surgery. Boaz is also a fan of Ray Negron’s Ronsen Piano Hammer Company products and together we decided on a set only this time made with Bacon felt. This felt, made by America’s oldest felt manufacturer, is much softer than most anything else used today and requires that the tone be “built up” through the careful application of lacquer. That is not a bad thing as it leads to a very specific piano tone. Boaz also wanted to include a Stanwood Precision Touch Design upgrade that was going to give us complete control of the up and down weight. All in all, it seemed like it was going to be a great piano. There was a catch though…

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New Piano Voicing Tricks for a Piano Technician

Piano voicing is a fascinating craft.I came of age as a voicer in the 1980’s, a time when there was not the richness of hammer and felt choices  there are today. Back then the world was pretty much divided into Renner and Steinway. The Renner hammers, with which I worked extensively because of their use on Bosendorfers, were pretty dense and hot pressed. The voicing process was pretty much limited to needling the crap out of them to get them down to a reasonable tone. Steinway hammers at the time were pretty much the opposite. They were balls of soft fluff that needed the application of lacquer, usually a substantial amount, to get any tone out of them at all.

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Traditional and Modern Soundboards

The soundboard is one of the most important parts of a piano.  Soundboards have traditionally been made of thin planks of solid spruce, about 1/2 inch thick and the width of your hand, glued together on the edges to form a very large surface. While this traditional approach has been used throughout the history of the industry, there are some very well known problems with this approach.

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RPT Repeat

I finally did it. I passed the final technical tests to regain my RPT (Registered Piano Technician) status with the Piano Technicians Guild. If you haven’t been following my progress (what?? you haven’t??) go to this post for a refresher.

The whole process was indeed an ordeal. While the bench tests were pretty much the […]