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Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

  • 1.  Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 10-26-2018 15:10
    I've read Keith Akins' article Voicing for the Rest of Us (side needle voicing) and used the approach very effectively on both a harsh old Winter Spinet that didn't warrant more than a minimal effort tone it down. The approach worked nicely and quickly to bring down the noise or high partials. I also used the technique on a small Lester Grand, it brought much greater clarity / sense of in-tune quality to the bass section, and toned down a overly bright upper tenor.


    Jim Busby's ebook, Complete Piano Voicing has been really valuable as well. Both Jim and Vince Mrykalo go into great detail in the book about "traditional" needling, but only a little detail specifically about side needling.

    I am now looking at how I might expand my use of side needling, and I picked up a 3 needle side voicing tool. I'm thinking about an application of side needling to achieve what we would with mid and deep shoulder needling. Specifically softening too hard shoulders, opening up the core sound, improving bloom, etc.

    Is it correct to think we can work toward a similar effect with side needling?

    I've done a quick drawing (obviously inspired by Keith Akins' illustrations) showing 4 ways I could think of orienting the 3-needle side voicing tool. The pink shaded compression core is avoided in all approaches. Green dots indicate 3 needle insertions point, size exaggerated. Needles always inserted 90 degrees to the hammer side (directly into side face of hammer)

    Fig A - radially* following the axis we might use in traditional needling (*mirroring your preferred radial needling angles, a debate in itself)
    Fig B - placing the needles at the end point of radially placed needles
    Fig C - angled zone side needling, avoiding compression core
    Fig D - stacked zone side needling, avoiding compression core (not really different than Fig C)

    Is there even an material difference in the four?
    Does this strike you as way too many stitches? (I will start with a single needle in the tool as I explore the shoulders, listening between stitches)
    Is this an appropriate use of side needling?

    I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on the topic.

    four possible approached to side needling deep and mid shoulders


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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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  • 2.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2018 13:19
    Hi Daniel, what a great post! I'm right there with you. I just purchased a nice side-needling tool several weeks ago from Jürgen (surprisingly affordable at about 90 bucks if I remember correctly) - I'm just beginning to experiment with it and all these questions have been going through my mind as well.

    First, apparently I have somehow missed that Keith Akins article-where is this found?

    I am also going to be downloading Jim Busby's E-book ASAP.

    I love your illustrations-I have wanted to do something like this for quite some time. But I must admit yours is WAY better than I could have done. Great potential for better & more accurate questions/discussions. Good job.

    Hey, are you on Global Piano Technicians? It's on Facebook BUT! ..It is a REALLY good forum & I think it would be awesome to take this discussion and put it on there. Some of THE best & most generous (with help & information primarily) are on this forum.
    Are you interested in this?
    Great to "meet you" and best to you,
    Kevin Fortenberry

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    [Kevin] [Fortenberry] [RPT]
    [Staff Techician]
    [Texas Tech Univ]
    [Lubbock] [TX]
    [8067783962]
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  • 3.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 10-27-2018 19:05
    Kevin, I have not yet joined that FB group, but I will be sure to look it up.

    Its wonderful that you find the illustration useful-my hope is that it would elicit more specific responses to the questions about side needle voicing. I'm happy to share a blank hammer illustration via PDF if that would be useful to you. That might make it easy to draw over when you have specific questions.

    It does seem that side needling is rather rare in the US, though I've read its more common in Europe. I wonder about other areas?

    Still hoping a few side needling proponents will weigh in.

    Cheers

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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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  • 4.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2018 23:54
    Yes! However side-needling in North America is REALLY growing & increasing more & more. You really can't judge by the lack of response on this very small sub-group. Which is why I was suggesting you (or one of us) should post your question on PTI or Global Piano Technicians.
    (Trying not to say ANYTHING negative but aside from the Pianotech group, there really is a somewhat abismal following on these forums.

    Anyway, yes please do send me those hammer PDFs. Would love to have those!

    ------------------------------
    [Kevin] [Fortenberry] [RPT]
    [Staff Techician]
    [Texas Tech Univ]
    [Lubbock] [TX]
    [8067783962]
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2018 23:57
    On second thought, could you post them to this forum? I need to have diagrams for a class I’m preparing on “Wielding the Needle”, and cant find them anywhere!

    I had a thought on this subject as well, and I’ll try and jump in tomorrow if I have time.

    Thanks!




  • 6.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 10-28-2018 00:46
    I'd be happy to share a PDF for you and others to use for diagraming voicing procedures. I'll try to get a file cleaned up tomorrow and figure out the best way to share.


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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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  • 7.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-28-2018 06:42
    Just to add my "yes" vote for side needling.  I've been using the technique for quite a few years.  It is not the cure all.  Although, it is an important part of the voicing tool kit IMHO.

    Nice illustrations.

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    Tim Coates
    Sioux Falls SD
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  • 8.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 10-28-2018 22:16
    Tim, do you use it in the manner we're looking at in those illustrations-specifically for softening lower/mid shoulders, in place of traditional radial needling?



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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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  • 9.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-28-2018 23:12
    One of the guys in my chapter uses side voicing almost exclusively for upright hammers. Says it's easier than trying to figure out how to hold the hammer still while pushing a needle into it. I'm going to talk with him soon to find out more.

    What I do know is that he prefers side needling in place of sugar coating on uprights. Right about the area where your dotted line is under the crown. Three needles.

    looking at your diagrams, figure B would affect the most change, I think, because it has more needle holes in between the individual layers of felt. I think... I don't think there'd be much difference between figures A and D. Imagine the layers of felt.

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    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
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  • 10.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-29-2018 07:21
    When and where to use side needling depends on the hammer and situation.  There are no "one size fits all" voicing techniques.  One has to listen to the sound, know enough about what each technique has to offer, know enough about how a particular hammer will respond, and proceed.  If the direction of your process doesn't achieve the desired results, try a different technique.

    I like your diagrams.  You have done a good job identifying the critical areas.  But then at times other techniques are required after side needling.  Side needling can help with "bloom", but then attack may need to be addressed.  Depending on what needs to be done with the attack, side needling may not be the answer.

    I know my response is vague, but that's how it is.  Experience is developed through trial and error.  There are many tools and experimenting helps learn the use of the tools.

    I am curious what size needles you use?  How far into the hammer do you insert the needles (perhaps I missed that)?

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    Tim Coates
    Sioux Falls SD
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  • 11.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 10-29-2018 13:52
    I have #7 needles in my single and #6 in my 3 needle side tool right now.

    On the single needle I have it set to go all the way through the hammer (past the tapered point, to ensure an equal stitch all the way through. On the 3-needle tool, I have the needles set to go a little further than half way, and make equal stitches on either side of the hammer. My thinking being that the slight overlap in the tapered tips of the needles (coming in one side, and then the other) gives a roughly even stitch through the hammer. (I've only done a very little experimenting with the 3-needle so far).

    The original Figure A is the approach I'm going to move forward with for now. Based on two thoughts:

    1) It follows the path we might use for traditional radial needling the deep and mid shoulders. The 3-needle tool should open the areas in a similar, but likely more efficient manner with less potential damage. The exact radians (best word I can think of for the angle of our needles) will vary based on your personal theory about where to target on the hammer core. Angles get steep as you move higher on the hammer.

    2) Its likely to put less stress on the action centers. I'm using a Bolduc 3-in-1 and it makes for easy access along those radians with a lower chance of torquing the hammer/shank.

    The diagrams are not intended to convey a specific number of stitches, only reference for placement. Number of stitches will vary greatly depending on hammer and tone, and we should always start with fewer stitches, and more listening.

    I'm hoping we can all appreciate the nuance and subtlety of voicing, but also realize that there are proven approaches, areas to look for answers in our quest for ever better tone. I'm also hoping by more clearly diagramming and discussing specifics-even if they only apply to one hammer(s), in one situation-we can all learn a little. In no way am I professing anything, only documenting what I have/am trying and  learning from the process.

    Sonic exploration.​​

    Potential single and tipple needle side voicing approach

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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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  • 12.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 10-29-2018 17:00
    I just added a Hammer Illustration PDF and EPS files to the voicing library.

    Its a blank hammer that people are welcome to use for illustrating needling angles / voicing techniques. Its my original drawing, inspired by a drawing from Keith's article. Hoping it will be useful for others to use in more clearly communicating about voicing approaches.

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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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  • 13.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-30-2018 22:43
    The pliers Jurgen sells are described as Lateral Voicing Pilars. I recently got a pair. Nice quality and a reasonable price, I believe. Watch this short video and you see the suggestion to insert the needles half way between the moulding and the strike point for a conservative test of the effect.

    http://pianovoicingpliers.com

    By the way, note that in the video the recommended protrusion of the needles is 5/16". However the instructions that came with the pliers recommends no more than half the width of the hammer or about 7/32" (5.5 mm), clearly less than what is stated in the video.

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    David Bauguess
    Grand Junction CO
    970-257-1750
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  • 14.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Member
    Posted 10-31-2018 08:21
    I modified my pliers from Jurgen. It is a dedicated single needle tool and I added a half-round to the opposing side for 90 ° insertion. The half-round has a slot cut into it for the needle to reside when in storage. Player tubing keeps it closed. The length of the needle is half hammer width plus a skosh.  I am thinking of adding a small leaf spring to aid in the needle's removal from the hammer felt.






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    Regards,

    Jon Page
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  • 15.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Member
    Posted 10-31-2018 08:25
    With my Bolduc side voicers I sometime orientate the needles 90° to the handle. Some applications, it makes it easier to see and apply pressure. I ground flat the portion of the barrel for the screw to keep it in position. I also use a f/r punching on the bearing to help it slide along the handle due to it's being not in line.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
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  • 16.  RE: Side Needling / Side Voicing Approach

    Posted 11-01-2018 11:27
    Jon,

    I picked up some of the small ball bearings last week, and plan to machine a custom insert to do just that-orient the needles 90° to the handle on my Bolduc. Time to fire up the Sherline milling machine.

    I'm thinking of making both a single needle and the 90° insert- on the Bolduc it is so much easier to switch inserts that mess with the needle set screws.


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    Daniel Petrzelka
    Mount Vernon WA
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