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Voicing Ronsen Hammers

  • 1.  Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-12-2018 16:07
    I am currently working on a Steinway "B".  The customer prefers a very mellow sound so I selected Ronsen low profile hammers.  After installing them, I think they may need to be brought up just a little.  They sound warm, but they lack power when you try to play loud.  So I am looking for suggestions on how to best treat the hammers.
    One other issue is that I am very sensitive to lacquer and don't keep any in the shop.  I can work with keytop/acetone and/or shellac.
    The customer has not heard the piano yet so I may not even have to do anything, but I want to be prepared just in case.
    Bill

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    William McKaig,RPT
    Tampa FL
    813-831-4179
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  • 2.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-12-2018 16:17
    Build power with 4:1 (4 thinner- 1 lacquer. 3:00/6:00 and below. Sometimes, but rare, 2 applications.
    Wurdack lacquer is what Steinway uses and is a good choice. 





  • 3.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-12-2018 17:17
    William,
    This topic has come up many times and I'm sure you'll get many technical recommendations.
    I use acetone/keytop (pyralin from Schaff) dissolved in acetone with the amount of pyralin added to the acetone as to appear as milk. I would add the solution no higher than 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock in the treble, lowering to 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock in the mid to upper treble if needed. This will give you the power you need, but you will probably need to apply something on the crown to increase the upper end of the tonal envelope. I always start in the treble first to see how the felt reacts. I use very thick lacquer (to the consistency of molasses) where needed because I don't want the lacquer to penetrate very deep into the felt*. Wait at least 8 hours for the lacquer to dry before making judgment. If too harsh, add lacquer thinner to the crown and tap the hammer on a hard surface covered with a paper towel. Be caucus about expecting a second application in the same area to further the stiffening process because the first application blocks the second application.
    *My theory is to leave a certain mid-portion of felt untouched to act as the spring for impedance matching.
    Roger
    Voicing Ronsen hammers requires experience for good results, always act with caution like you did when you first learned to turn a tuning pin.





  • 4.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 07:47
    Has anyone tried applying hardener to the sides of the crown?  I hate the idea of hardening the shoulders.  I would like to avoid that if possible.

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    William McKaig
    Tampa FL
    813-831-4179
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  • 5.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 10:05
    If you're sensitive to lacquer, you might check out B72, the latest hammer hardener.  You could get the whole story from Dale Erwin, or Dan Levitan and Ken Eschete, who will be offering a class on it at this summer's convention.

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    Zeno Wood
    Brooklyn, NY
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  • 6.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 11:33
    William,
    You wrote, "I hate the idea of hardening the shoulders" That's a comment hanging in the air. I'm curious, what "idea" is compelling you to "hate" shoulder hardening?
    Roger





  • 7.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 10:57
    Which felt from Ronsen?

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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 11:48
    Edited by David Love 04-13-2018 11:49
    Generally I use PianoLac from Pianotek, though it is a lacquer based product.  A 20% solution will work well on that hammer and is probably all you need.  That's a relatively mild solution of this product.  It will bring it up but not over do it.  Using a 4oz hypo oiler put 20 grams of lacquer and fill the rest with either lacquer thinner or acetone (80 grams--they hold about 100 grams).

    I use this product because it remains flexible and doesn't get crystalline like most lacquers.  Nice for table tops but not for hammers.   You want the fiber to maintain its flexibility and regular lacquers or sanding sealers are the wrong stuff for that reason, IMO.  I'm not familiar with these new products so can't comment there.

    To apply just apply from the high shoulder to get complete saturation all the way to the crown.  Expect to do some smoothing or fine shallo crown needling after.

    Do not use keytop solution for bringing up hammers generally.  Ok in a pinch for light application at the crown when needed but don't soak hammers with keytop solution.

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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 9.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 12:54
    I regularly use the Ronsen low profile hammers, and begin my protocol by shoulder needling.  I find that it opens up the tone, gains sustain, and can brighten the piano if not taken too far.  That's my go -to, and if it needs help, I will lacquer where needed.

    Will Truitt

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    William Truitt
    Bridgewater NH
    603-744-2277
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  • 10.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 12:54
    Any idea what is in this new hammer hardener?

    Roger, I like resilient hammers and I fill that once you fill the hammer with too much hardener it becomes two dimensional (loud/soft).  I usually use Abel Naturals or Renner Blue Points which are voice down hammers.  I can adjust the brightness of these as well as the shape of the tone.

    David, these are Wurzen felt low profile hammers.  I chose these because you posted here in the past that is what you would use for a "B" or "D".  I was hoping they would not need to be brought up and they may not if the customer likes them the way they are.  If the piano was for me though I could not leave them the way they are.


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    William McKaig
    Tampa FL
    813-831-4179
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  • 11.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-13-2018 13:58
    I also primarily use Pianolac in varying consistencies depending on the situation generally in small  mixes between  2 to 1 and 4 to 1. I don't know if I'd necessarily experiment on the B that you're currently working with  until you have monitored  results yourself, but in similar  situations I have removed the keyboard  stood it on it's side upright and applied pianolac   immediately at the tip of the molding and let it bloom up and out towards the crown and the shoulders but not quite reaching either, with the action in this upright position you can more readily control the application and be consistent. After applying  to one side of hammer, turn the action around but still upright and do the same application at the tip  of the molding on the other side of the hammer.

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    Martin Snow
    Boston MA
    617-543-1030
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  • 12.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-14-2018 20:11
    I have rarely found the need to harden the Wurzen Low Profile hammers with the possible exception of the top half a dozen notes.  I have installed them on many B's (as well as a host of A's, Ms, O's, Ls) and I just visited a B that I'm bringing down just slightly after a year or two of modest playing.  I installed a set on a Bosendorfer 225 last year and while I think it's a bit under what I might like, the player (serious 5-hour-a-day player) loves them and doesn't want me touching them.  Were it left to me I would probably harden just slightly from about note 60 to the top, maybe 20% PianoLac solution and bring up the wrapped string area a bit as well (btw it was his request that I put on something softer than the stock Boesy hammer).  Most of the time with this particular felt I am doing very little other than smoothing.  With Weickert or Bacon I have found it necessary to do some hardening more often.  Before I put any lacquer on I would deliver the action and explain that you'd like the player to put 50 - 100 hours on the instrument.  For serious players that's a couple of months at most.  Let them know that you can bring it up but you'd like to see how the hammers develop.  In the meantime do make sure that you have very precise hammer mating and polish the tops of the hammers with 1000 grit paper (going incrementally from about 400, 600, 800).  The paper should squeak a bit over the hammers at the end.

    On the other hand I just installed a set of Blue Points on a Grotrian 225 and I think it's about perfect (some pre and post needling required, but not a lot) and the customer wants the bass to have a bit more bite.

    It's hard to predict these things exactly.  I like to get something on there that's as close to my target out of the box so the modifications I make are minimal.  That can require some experimenting and experience but well worth the trouble, IMO.

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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 13.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-15-2018 09:52
    I also find that calibrating the strike weight makes a significant difference in ways I would not have initially predicted.

    Pwg

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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 14.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-15-2018 14:37
    Ditto to Peter's remarks.  When I did my first piano where I was evening out the strikeweights to a close tolerance, I was surprised how much effect that had on the unified voice of the piano.  The voicing started on a more even plane before the first needles went into the hammers.

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    William Truitt
    Bridgewater NH
    603-744-2277
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  • 15.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-16-2018 09:41
    I always weigh off the hammers during the prep.  For this size piano I leave the bass hammers in the mid range for weight and then work for fairly light hammers as I move up the scale.  I start with raw hammers so it gives me a lot of leeway to balance everything out.  With this set, every hammer is lighter than its neighbor going up the scale.

    William, I will try shoulder needling  and see how it goes.  I will also try polishing the strike point which I think will help.

    There is still a lot of finish work to do on the action before I get to the final voicing.  I'll let you know how it comes out.
    Bill

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    William McKaig
    Tampa FL
    813-831-4179
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  • 16.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-16-2018 10:58
    <There is still a lot of finish work to do on the action before I get to the final voicing.

    I can totally relate to being impatient to "hear what you've got" before its time. Many times, I have needlessly driven myself into questionable mind-frames listening to the "finished" tone, before the regulation is capable of delivering a "finished" tone. I have to remind myself over and over again, to be patient and wait until all the systems are capable of showing me what the choices I made sound like, in the finished piano.

    Worrying about the apparently diminished power, before finishing fine regulation, it is possible that you are performing this glorious self-mutilation on yourself too.

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 17.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-16-2018 12:32
    Yes!  I'm doing this exact thing as we speak!  Glad to see it's not just me...

    Chris





  • 18.  RE: Voicing Ronsen Hammers

    Posted 04-16-2018 11:49
    Bill, I do the same - starting with raw unbored, un-anything hammers.  I weigh the hammers as I complete each operation, and the finished hammers are to a tolerance of .1 gram.  I choose a Stanwood spline curve to match my hammer weights to.

    The shoulder needling always seems to open and improve the tone of the piano for each new set of hammers.  I do use progressive grits of paper up to 1200 grit, as I deem necessary.

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    William Truitt
    Bridgewater NH
    603-744-2277
    ------------------------------