Understanding Regulation

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Otto
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Understanding Regulation

Post by Otto » 04 Jan 2013, 16:05

In the on-going saga of attempting to return my model D to its glorious heydays, I've been taking two steps forwards and one step back - which is definitely better than the other way round.

We've found out the problem with the 'dead' sounding notes in the 5th/6th octave at p and pp, and barring a couple of notes that still need attention, seem to have a good handle on that one.

I spent a lot of money on 2 days worth of a specialist Steinway technician's time giving it all a thorough service and re-regulation, including re-shaping the hammers, adjusting the strike points etc. etc. Now the felts on the hammers have settled down (it's a little bit brighter - but very OK), I'm confronted with something I'm finding hard to live with.

The keys seem to occasionally 'baulk' when I play p and pp and don't always sound - I'm just left with a mechanical clunk I can feel through the key - the jack resetting ? I can't believe that around 55 years of playing my technique has suddenly fallen through the floor. I also note that after a note has been played and before the key released, the hammer falls back to a low position and then rises again a matter of 8-10mm.

I have called the fellow back and he claims everything is 100% as it should be, and what I'm objecting to is the jack return spring (?) being set too strongly. He has 'weakened' the spring, and that seems to help, but not solve the problem. He claims that there is nothing more he can do, and if I'm not satisfied, then he will refund the cost of someone else sorting the problem out.

In a lot of ways what he done to the sound of the piano has been excellent, and I appreciate that, but there is still the matter of playability and it's definitely different from how it was. I was up in London, and getting a bit paranoid about it all, popped into Steinway Hall and played a couple of their 'D's - the action was like silk - just like mine used to be - so I don't think it's me.

If anyone would like to give me some advice, I'd really appreciate it. What would probably be most helpful would be a diagram of the action, and an explanation of what the effect of each adjustment is for the player. As a design engineer, I ought to be able to manage to understand that. I feel I need to understand what does what so that I can get involved in an informed way when getting another tech. to sort the problem.

Many thanks in anticipation.
Otto

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 04 Jan 2013, 16:24

Try this: http://www.piano.christophersmit.com/popUpMotion.html
and this: http://www.pianotreff.nu/tidigare_treff ... lation.pdf
Otto wrote:We've found out the problem with the 'dead' sounding notes in the 5th/6th octave at p and pp, and barring a couple of notes that still need attention, seem to have a good handle on that one.
Would you share the solution here or by PM? I have/had the same problem and I'd be interested to compare notes.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Otto » 04 Jan 2013, 16:36

We went through all this earlier in the year in this thread http://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-forum ... =3&t=10026

The 'essence' of the whole thread was :
The strings were never a problem, and what had happened was that when the hammers were replaced the strike point was rather approximate, particularly in the critical 5th / 6th octave. As the heads became progressively flatter and flatter with use, so the mis-positioning of the hammers became ever more problematic, and the hammer was effectively both striking and briefly damping the string. Hence the 'thunky' sound.

Once the hammers had been reshaped and the grooves filed away we were back to a properly shaped hammer with a more precise strike point. By moving the action in and out we found the 'sweet spot' where the string naturally needed to be struck and then cracked the head off and re-glued it in the new position. In all there were about 8-10 heads that were addressed thus. Bye bye thunkiness.
I followed the links you gave, and reckon that the second (all 50+ pages) is good and close to the sort of thing I had in mind. However there are no diagrams at all and if you don't know what a wippen is (I DO know what a whippet is - got 2 of those), then it's all a bit meaningless.

Any piccies to go with it ?
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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 04 Jan 2013, 16:57

Thanks, Otto.

In my case the hammers were refelted. Seating the strings and securing all the plate fixings appear to be the answer, though there can always be something you haven't thought of.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 04 Jan 2013, 17:49

Otto wrote:I followed the links you gave, and reckon that the second (all 50+ pages) is good and close to the sort of thing I had in mind. However there are no diagrams at all and if you don't know what a wippen is (I DO know what a whippet is - got 2 of those), then it's all a bit meaningless.

Any piccies to go with it ?
Sorry no piccies, but Smit's or Renner's or other diagrams on the web should fill in the blanks. In the end you have to think through the whole chain of events.
Last edited by Withindale on 05 Jan 2013, 13:09, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Colin Nicholson » 04 Jan 2013, 23:29

I suspect that the repetition springs (also jack springs) - may have been de-tensioned too much, so not allowing the repetition lever to rise fully, hence the jack not resetting properly under the rollers.... may also explain why the hammers drop below their level (under inertia) - then the spring just having enough tension to raise it back up.... so making repetition poor, and occasional notes not playing softly. If the jacks are not aligned properly under the rollers, they may trip early.

To set the rep springs properly on a Steinway, you need the action out on a flat bench, then a grand regulating rack set up, and you also need a double-ended hook that can flick the spring out to add more tension - but be careful as you bend the spring - too much, and the hammer becomes fierce. Its critical that the hammer gives a gentle 'kick' after a sharp blow to a note.

Best bet is to buy the Reblitz book.... fully illustrated and shows a grand action - and also the full regulating sequence & fault finding/problems page.... very good book - should get it on Amazon?
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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 05 Jan 2013, 13:48

Otto

Have read the other thread now, seen your technician's credentials, and picked up Johnkie's nugget about the effect of stuff on strings.

What's confusing is Anthony Cooke saying the springs are set too strongly and then Colin saying they may have been de-tensioned too much. Added to that you say your action is no longer silky like the ones at Steinway Hall. Was that compared to just before the regulation? Is that a general feeling or specific to the occasional baulking you describe?

Might be an idea to describe the problematic key strokes and any other lack of silkiness in detail.

We once had a whippet cross - jumped highest to get out of the rescue centre - totally unpredictable and loved to chase over the Berkshire Downs near the Ridgeway.
Last edited by Withindale on 10 Jan 2013, 13:23, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Barrie Heaton » 05 Jan 2013, 16:09

Withindale wrote:Otto

What's confusing is Anthony Cooke saying the springs are set too strongly and then Colin saying they may have been de-tensioned too much. .
Spring are one of the last items you adjust to the correct tension However, you need the springs to hold the hammers up on the rep lever wile donning the blow or you get a false reading. So some techs set the spring strong first - then set it to the correct setting for the client at the end on most pianos adjusting the springs is not needed unless some had buggered about with them or they are very old and week


on stranded butterfly grand rep springs you must never adjust the spring with the bottom part always the top. pull up to tension push down to weaken. its less backbreaking to work form the back of the action facing the key when doing springs action need to be on a flat bench Look at the spring and always unhook on the side of the coil. So on most pianos looking to the keys from the back you unhook to the right of the whippen see images
rep1.jpg
Repartition spring in place
Pull to you to increase tension push down to floor to reduce tension
rep2.jpg
Repartition spring unhooked

You need a lot of time to do this bit right and to get an even touch

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 05 Jan 2013, 20:29

Thanks, Barrie, very informative.

You make a telling point that "on most pianos adjusting the springs is not needed unless some has buggered about with them". One wonders why Otto's Steinway D shouldn't be in that category as it had been silky smooth like those at Steinway Hall quite recently.

Otto, over to you.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by rxd » 06 Jan 2013, 15:03

Withindale wrote:Thanks, Barrie, very informative.

You make a telling point that "on most pianos adjusting the springs is not needed unless some has buggered about with them". One wonders why Otto's Steinway D shouldn't be in that category as it had been silky smooth like those at Steinway Hall quite recently.

Otto, over to you.
While the real tension on the spring can remain the same, the resistance offered by the bushings in the action, particularly the hammer shank/ flange bushing can vary seasonally, making the apparent tension on the spring vary, sometimes greatly. Taking into account the wear on the bushing and hammer gradually getting lighter over time, the impression can be gained that the springs have been altered when, in fact, nothing has been done to them. This situation produces the illusion that the springs have must have been strengthened because, in simplistic thinking, they can't strengthen themselves. A potentially baffling situation until it is understood what is happening.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Barrie Heaton » 06 Jan 2013, 19:31

rxd wrote:
Withindale wrote:Thanks, Barrie, very informative.

You make a telling point that "on most pianos adjusting the springs is not needed unless some has buggered about with them". One wonders why Otto's Steinway D shouldn't be in that category as it had been silky smooth like those at Steinway Hall quite recently.

Otto, over to you.
While the real tension on the spring can remain the same, the resistance offered by the bushings in the action, particularly the hammer shank/ flange bushing can vary seasonally, making the apparent tension on the spring vary, sometimes greatly. Taking into account the wear on the bushing and hammer gradually getting lighter over time, the impression can be gained that the springs have been altered when, in fact, nothing has been done to them. This situation produces the illusion that the springs have must have been strengthened because, in simplistic thinking, they can't strengthen themselves. A potentially baffling situation until it is understood what is happening.
Quite a lot of tuners don't look at the up and down weights to see the friction they are working with.

for the none tuners....

If you have 20g more friction in the action than the factory settings and you increase the springs all you will do is make the arms of the pianist sore and they will find control very difficult on PP playing. On the other hand if you have 15g less friction in the action than the factory settings, the action can run away and the pianist can have difficulty controlling form pp to fff. If the action is worn or badly regulated then problem with checking can develop on pp playing and that is were the above happens "the illusion" The main culprit for the spring is friction in the hammers but overall friction will play it part in giving a false reading

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Otto » 10 Jan 2013, 12:32

I really had no intention of naming names, and I'm sorry that someone else has. As I said, I'm delighted with the majority of the work that was done, and I'm just a bit bemused as to why the last few bits of regulation have left the action in its current state, and seem to have escaped efforts to correct it.

I shall shortly be receiving a book from Amazon (thanks for the suggestion Colin) and will sit down and have a good look through and see if all the (helpful? :P ) comments here strike a chord (I'll get my coat ...)

I'm sure I'll be back for detailed further enlightenment at some stage (e.g. what's a dag? - no don't answer).

Oh yes, talking of friction, I played an all carbon fibre action with getting on for zero friction, and its up pressure was sufficient to keep the key 'stuck' to your finger as you raised it from playing a note. It certainly felt extremely weird to play, and I'm not sure I'd want to live with a piano action like that.
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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Colin Nicholson » 10 Jan 2013, 13:57

The book is very detailed - and possibly alot more!
If you want to attempt the rep spring tensions yourself, you need an 'S' shaped hook to fish out the spring. Although the photo previously shows the access of the springs, in reality, this is just a single key action model, and the spring can be accessed in a breath from either end! ..... and if you do attempt the job, I would recommend you remove a lever first so you can see the groove inside (as you are working blind). On some pianos, the groove is assisted with bushing cord. I spent about half a day once just "un-gundging" all the corrosion from where the springs slide - and many were seized in the jack slot holes. When you pull the spring out - you are also actually releasing a small amount of tension at the same time - and its quite a bit of practise to get it just right.

Good luck with that.
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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 10 Jan 2013, 15:21

Otto

I mentioned Anthony Cooke only after reading your story and seeing his long experience with Steinway. I did mention his credentials, hoping to imply that anyone in the South West or elsewhere with a Steinway to look after might do well to contact him. Someone told me recently that no one survives as a piano technician for 40 years unless they are (very) good. It seems obvious Colin is in the same class but I have no idea when he will qualify for his bus pass.

As a general rule when two experts come up with diametrically opposed answers I've found it pays to have a closer look at the problem. Go through the whole thing in detail from start to finish; the solution may then become obvious. This seems to be particularly true with pianos.

Reblitz is well worth reading, my copy is on a convenient "bookshelf". The advice on this forum is even better.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Bob Pierce » 19 Jan 2013, 15:37

Just a couple of questions;
Were the hammers recovered?
When you look at the hammer line is there a dip in the strike line in the area where there is a tone problem.
Where the lever heels recovered or are they dished?

These questions will help with an answer.

The Reblitz book is not suitable for DIY types.

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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Withindale » 20 Jan 2013, 12:32

Bob Pierce wrote:The Reblitz book is not suitable for DIY types.
I found Reblitz very helpful when I bought a piano for £50 knowing little about it. As far as I know it is the only readily available book of its type.

The chapter on regulation is comprehensive but, understandably, its recipes are rather rigid. It leads to good but not necessarily the best results for a given piano, as Reblitz himself acknowledges. Key dip of 3/8" or 7/16" with checking at 5/8" may not be the best options for every upright. I found they weren't for mine.

The Kawai manuals on vertical and grand piano regulation are easier to follow and largely applicable to other makes. You can download them via Google.

PS I have since seen there is a Haynes Piano Manual that may be worth a look.
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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Barrie Heaton » 20 Jan 2013, 13:11

Withindale wrote:
The Kawai manuals on vertical and grand piano regulation are easier to follow and largely applicable to other makes. You can download them via Google.
When we did them in Braille and converted the temanolage into real English, Kawai told us that they did not want then in the public domain on the net... Yet Kawai USA put them up well the US English version very odd.


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Re: Understanding Regulation

Post by Otto » 15 Feb 2013, 18:20

I think we've eventually got there.

It was a fairly tedious business, and started off by finding that the spine of the roller was about 15 degrees out of square with the line of the jack (and hence the shank and the jack were not perpendicular by the same amount). Also, the centre of the roller was about 1-2mm further forward than its should have been - there's a reasonable picture in Reblitz which shows how it should be. Raising the pivot point for each shank by around 1mm on the top rail corrected both problems. This seemed to entail all sorts of other minor corrections to compensate.

The set-off point was moved a good deal closer to the strings, and a load of tension taken off the repeat springs. (No I don't know why they were originally adjusted to be so fierce, either).

Net result, is that the piano is back to its old self again, and if anything, the response is even more immediate than it was before (I shall have to get out my Czerny "School of Velocity" books out again!)

My Ab in the fifth/sixth octave is still a little 'thunky', and next time I have the technician round, I'll get him to swap the A and Ab hammers and see if the 'thunkiness' follows the hammer. If so, then we'll try a little bit of doping on it.
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