All this demonstrates why I use the 'T' hammer for tuning a Grand piano. Albeit I'm left-handed, makes no difference. What does make a difference is that there's no longer an issue with the 'o'clock' position. The hand is right over the centre of the wrest-pin at all times. I simply have a very strong wrist. And I'm sure Fred is right when he states that the position of the lever (as a tuning tool) has no bearing on the wear in the pin-block.
Michael (UK) ------------------------------------------- Michael Gamble semi retired Brighton 01273813612 -------------------------------------------
Michael (UK) ------------------------------------------- Michael Gamble semi retired Brighton 01273813612 ------------------------------------------- Original Message: Sent: 02-19-2014 08:22 From: David Love Subject: hammer technique Richard: Many things we agree with but some we don't. Let's first stipulate to the notion that there are different ways to get the job done, I don't argue with that. But that doesn't mean that their may not be better ways and by better I mean either more efficient (faster) or more stable, or both. While the other discussion started out as one addressing efficiency, the stability factor did come into play and might even be more important. Let's face it, stability is really at the heart of the matter. With temperaments we have some leeway (think of all the different temperaments being used successfully). Octaves also can vary as different degrees of stretch are implemented by different tuners depending on stylistic preferences. Unisons, however, are different. It's pretty much zero tolerance. Scoring 98% on most other testing will give you an A or A+. But if we tune with 98% stability in unisons then five notes may be out and that's enough to cost us an invitation back. In a concert situation it would be unacceptable. So efficiency as it leads to greater stability is also important. Many points you made in the first paragraph I agree with. I do use a 15 degree head and very short tip. I like the lever long enough but not too long as I do grip it at the end (I use a Faulk hammer that is more teardrop shaped, widest at the end, very light). The Watanabe tip that I use is beautifully designed to grip the pin as low (near the coils) as possible. That helps to minimize flagpolling (pin leaning) and twisting. I sit as you do slightly angled with right side closer to the keyboard. At the treble end I stand as the lever position required makes it easier on me physically. I agree that "beat(ing) the piano into stability" is not necessary. Where we disagree is with the premise of the traditional strategy. You wrote "If you use the 3 o'clock position in grands, the rotation and flex of the pin matches the pitch direction you want to have." My strategy is exactly opposite to that. If we understand "rotation" to mean twist and "flex" to mean the direction in which we cause the pin to lean, then I want those two forces exactly opposite to each other. If that is accomplished then the pin will turn in the block and the pitch change will reflect only the turning of the pin in the block, nothing else. Of course achieving this goal exactly requires some developed feel for when the pin turns in the block and when it is likely to turn. Even then it is not always precise as the pin torque will cause those forces to change in magnitude in order to balance. But that is the goal, along with being able to feel the pin move in the block. When that can be accomplished the pitch can be moved straight up from the flat side to the target and the only question mark will be the ease or speed at which the string renders through the friction points. By doing that you not only tune in a more direct line to the pitch, rather than see-sawing up above the pitch and down below the pitch until you settle (hopefully) on the pitch, but you also reduce the variability that will exist at any one time between the string segments that must be accounted for if the string is to remain stable. That's about as concise as I think I can put it. The mechanics of this with respect to hammer position become more clear when you think about it in terms of quadrants and vectors. Each quadrant 12:00 - 3:00, 3:00 - 6:00, 6:00 - 9:00, 9:00 to 12:00 can be analyzed in terms of the leaning force applied to the pin in the direction of the strings. The magnitude of the force which pushes the pin toward the string (driving the pitch flat) will change as the lever changes position. However, there will be net positive from 6:00 to 12:00 and net negative from 12:00 to 6:00 (basically). So from the 10:00 position (grand piano) the turning of the level clockwise will cause the pin to lean toward the string (flat) while the twisting will cause the pitch to rise (sharp). From that position, depending again on torque), the balancing of those two forces will be somewhat natural as we turn the lever on a horizontal axis. If the pin is very tight and requires more twist before it moves you can move to the 9:00 position (though it is more ergonomically awkward) where the force causing the pin to lean toward the string will be greater. In fact, with very tight pins I find that moving to the 9:00 position is helpful. If you don't want to move to the 9:00 to 12:00 quadrant and prefer to tune from 1:30, say, then you have to lean on the lever a bit pressing down toward the string as you turn to effectively duplicate the force that would be applied from the the 9:00 - 12:00 quadrant. The less you are able to do this (offset) the more the pitch will come to the sharp side where you then have to push it back down to a point where it equalizes. As was pointed out in another post, getting to the pitch from below rather than above may be better in terms of consistency in setting stability. As an aside, when the pitch is sharp I usually try and bump it down to the flat side slightly first and then come back up. My hammer technique for that move is more an impact style, a few delicate bumps to try and reduce pin flexing in that direction. If it's a large pitch correction from the sharp side (my least favorite) then I often still try and "impact it down" but the way the pin let's go in the block is harder to predict that way which is why I don't prefer it. A better way, in terms of the ideas being put forth in this discussion, is to take the pitch down with the hammer in the 9:00 - 12:00 quadrant where pushing the hammer to move the pin in the flat direction leans the pin away from the strings (driving the pitch to the sharp side) and you can use these offsetting forces to your advantage as well. However, it can be awkward ergonomically. So, just to finish these thoughts, from the 3:00 position moving toward 6:00 it becomes very difficult to balance these forces of twisting and leaning. You will now have to start lifting the hammer end (rather than pressing) as you turn. It can be done but is more awkward. If we compare uprights and grands we find that since the twisting of the pin (in the direction of raising the pitch) always drives the pitch sharp, the hammer position with respect to pin lean should be one in which the natural tendency is to drive the pitch flat or lean the pin toward the strings. So on a grand the 9:00 - 12:00 quadrant accomplishes that (basically there are some other complications in vector stuff that we can put aside for now), in an upright the 12 - 3:00 quadrant is what is necessary. If we don't tune from those quadrants then we need to apply a directional force which causes the lever to act like it's in those quadrants. (It may be interesting to note that to increase the leaning force on a grand in the 9:00 - 12:00 quadrant we need to move the hammer starting position counterclockwise--9:00 will cause more pitch affecting lean than 12:00. But in an upright we move clockwise--3:00 will produce more pitch affecting lean than 12:00. The respective orientations can be thought of as the mirror image of each other. With respect to the do no harm, I agree. But I don't think what I am suggesting will do any harm to the block. In both methods the pin leans, the only difference is in which direction. ------------------------------------------- David Love RPT www.davidlovepianos.com firstname.lastname@example.org 415 407 8320 ------------------------------------------- Original Message: Sent: 02-18-2014 12:26 From: Richard West Subject: hammer technique David, We technicians love to agree to disagree. I'll try to pay a little more attention to my hammer position and body position as I tune. I do know that I use the 3 o'clock position in grands but I also move to the noon to 1 position as well, especially in the high treble when it's impossible to use the 3 o'clock position. I sometimes stand; I don't usually sit parallel to the keyboard but angle my right side in toward the keyboard. Some technicians use a super long tuning tip so that the hammer is above the stretcher, but I don't like the feel of that. My tip is close to the pin, and the angle is 10 degrees. Less than 10 puts the hammer too close to the pins; more than 10 and I feel like I'm in a position that makes me start to flex the pin too aggressively (I think that's also a problem with the super long tip). Tip length and angle are big choices to the feel and control of each pin/string. I continue to use the traditional hammer. I've tried some other newer designs, but I come back to my rosewood handle with extendability. I've rarely have had bodily pain as a result of using that hammer. One final note, as my hammer technique improved over the years, my need to beat the piano into stability subsided. Good technique and mezzo forte blows gets the job done without bodily abuse. My reasoning behind hammer position strategy goes back to the traditional explanation that we've all heard. If you use the 3 o'clock position in grands, the rotation and flex of the pin matches the pitch direction you want to have. That is, rotating the pin clockwise and flexing the pin toward you, raises the pitch and relaxing your pull settles the pin and string into stability, ideally, that is. In an upright the 9 o'clock position acts the same way, hence the idea that tuning left handed is better for uprights. I don't tune left handed mostly because I'm too lazy to learn, but also I want to keep my right hand in shape so that I can give my most experienced hand to grands. Learning to tune well, however, is learning how to deviate from the traditional model to find what actually works. Here's where agreeing to disagree comes in, because there are lots of things that will work. We also have to subscribe to the dictum, "Do no harm!" I'm of the opinion that being overly aggressive with pin flex can result in flagpoling which can do harm. Dan Levitan proved what we all knew, but were cautious to state: Pin flex is a given. Every rotational movement usually involves some pin flexing. That doesn't mean we have to get carried away with it. I've removed tuning pins that wobbled out and were clearly bent. Pin block holes do get loose and not only from spit wood. I suspect poor hammer technique can contribute. But that's only a suspicion without actual proof. Perhaps someone has studied this to determine if tuning enlarges pinblock holes. ------------------------------------------- Richard West Lincoln NE 402-477-7198 email@example.com -------------------------------------------