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Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

  • 1.  Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Posted 27 days ago
    Hi folks

    So, I wanted to post my findings here, because I did a lot of hunting online for answers and very few helpful results are out there.

    I upgraded my gooseneck lever finally (I've only been tuning 4 or 5 years)  - and yea, I went with the classic rosewood Schaff hammer. I see today rigidity over weight is at the forefront of lever tech. I'm still establishing myself and I have tuners in my family back 2 generations that used them and I guess I still like the look and feel.. for now

    Anyway, I had a really mixed bag when I got it shipped. I was amazed at the quality of machining of the handle and collet. The hex shaft stuck out a goofy amount from the handle, so I machined it shorter so the business end was better balanced. The head.. they're not plated, the stamping was off and there were a decent number of burrs but once I took care of those they're quite nice.

    The tips look to be softly machined. I got a number 3 for this but I have a 2 here as well. I could still rock the lever a decent amount back and forth on a properly sized pin, it's hard to describe but I just didn't feel like I had good control.

    In come the many posts about Watanabe tips! I see they're compatible with a lot of carbon fiber hammers, beautiful ones from Faulk, etc. but the classic Schaff heads are different. I even remember reading detailed posts with thread pitch measurements because their diameters are different. (Schaff told me they were metric, and Pianotek just said they're not but companies use proprietary threads, so buy at your own risk!)

    I have a background in machining and movie prop replica work so I really get this. However someone posted (maybe on this site) that a W tip would be loose on a S head.

    I just did it this afternoon. I have a #2 Watanabe tip and a 13G 15 degree Schaff head, made very recently. I hand threaded the tip and it got stuck after 1 turn. Seriously, either the Schaff head is too big or the Watanabe tip is smaller. Well, I got an extra Schaff head to try this out so it was "disposable" to me so I used my knowledge from other industries to see what would happen. If they were the same thread pitch, I'd either ruin them/get them stuck together or they just wouldn't move in the first place because the material is already there. ​I applied 3-in-1 lubricant oil and used a tip wrench to see what would happen. I.... I think I re-tapped the threads.

    With some force the Watanabe tip smoothly spiraled onto the Schaff head, and it felt exactly like when I tap a hole with RapidTap. I backed it off a couple times just to check, and they are compatible now. The Watanable tip seats very flush with the head, leaving only a tight line like this old Hale speed hammer I have lying around, the Schaff heads are a little rounded at the back.

    So.. if anyone is curious, my experience is that it technically works and you might ruin the head... but most likely you won't. I don't know which part has the harder material but it's on there, you most likely will slowly cut new threads and it won't come off easily. I do notice a significant difference with Watanabe tips, they seat a little tighter and look like they are a bit sharper machined. I really like the feel.

    I didn't look into Watanabe heads, but I had trouble even finding one with the 15 degree head I like

    Thanks for coming to my "ted talk" haha

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    Tom Delmonte
    Buffalo, NY
    t.delmonte9@gmail.com
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  • 2.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Member
    Posted 27 days ago
    I prefer a 5 degree head and a BKB #3 tip on a Faulk lever. I also have a Hahn 5 degree head with a Hahn #2 tip on a golf handle with ball-end (home-made).​​ And another with a Hale 5 degree head. I have numerous tips for different pins, #4, a couple 2's and an oblong. I also carry a narrow-tipped #2 on an adapter.  50 years of collecting. I've gotten rid of the extension handles, they are just too heavy.​​

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 3.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 27 days ago
    I have a Coleman 20º head w/Watanabe #2 that Coleman also provides. I prefer this for grands. Not sure about the head on a Schaff lever but I'm sure Coleman can provide the info.
    Apparently his site is no longer working but it was reported here that he's still providing tools.​

    I like the Watanabe levers as well.

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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 4.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 27 days ago
    Tom,
    I tuned with a "classic" hammer for about 40 years and was happy with my choices; I evolved to a standard Hale hammer and #2 tip and a Schaff short hammer with a 5° tip for uprights, this worked well.

    Then at a PTG convention I decided to get modern and spent the big bucks on a Charles Faulk hammer.  Now I find tuning with my old hammers painful!

    I had to buy a new tool bag as the CF hammer wouldn't fit into my old tool kit, but then I was growing tired of hauling my 45 lb mass of iron up appartment stains or through long school hallways​.

    I now actually look forward to tuning!  The CF wrench is a pleasure to use and it fits almost every piano (only a few rare grand plates are too tall)​.  I was actually using a bicycling glove to ease the pain in my hands but now my hammer fits my hand comfortably.

    Your new wrench/hammer is a good one and will serve you well, but the newer hammers are well worth looking into.

    OK Charles, you can send me the check now.

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    Blaine Hebert
    Duarte CA
    626-795-5170
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  • 5.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 27 days ago
    Tom,
    I hate to say this but here goes…
    yes, those legacy hammers have a nice aesthetic. I still have the same rosewood non-extendable as you. But it's now a backup kept in the glove compartment. I replaced the tip with a Jahn, which technically shouldn't work because one, either hammer or tip has a tapering diameter. I just jammed the sucker on and there it stays. I think it's 10 or 15 degrees-5 will not work in many pianos.

    I'll never go back from my Fujan CF lever. I doubt anyone does.

    I grew up playing tennis in the 70s. Anyone remember the Kramer Prostaff? The beautiful Wilson Advantage? They were good racquets in their day-I guess-but the world moved on to composites. Sure, we laughed for a while at the old foggies playing doubles with their giant Prince behemoths. Eventually though, everyone else saw the light and dumped those nice old warping wood sandwiches. Wait-did I mention no one rides the Tour de France on those steel behemoth bikes anymore? Or bamboo fishing rods? Or hobnail boots on Everest?

    so yes, those old levers might envelope one in the warm glow of nostalgia (but didn't Borg win on wood? Didn't Jimmy Connors win with steel?) but those days are long past. Dump the steel hammer. Not worth the trouble.

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    Scott Cole, RPT
    rvpianotuner.com
    Talent, OR
    (541-601-9033
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  • 6.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 26 days ago
    I have a collection of antique hammers on my wall.  I have used them and actually there is some magic in using a 100+ year old tool, but I much prefer my Charles Faulk hammer.



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    Blaine Hebert
    Duarte CA
    626-795-5170
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  • 7.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Member
    Posted 26 days ago
    Blaine,
    Those handles are archaic but the heads and tips might be valuable property and should be used on new handles. I use a Faulk most of the time with a BKB #3 tip but my Tom Driscoll handle has an old head and tip.  I made a longer handle lever for better leverage and have a near-antique head and tip on the shaft. Those old tips are pure gold. ​I have a few T-handles too as well as antique oblong-tipped levers (double-headed at that - gave one away).

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 8.  RE: Classic Tuning hammer tip & head compatability

    Posted 25 days ago
    Blaine (and everyone)

    Thank you! I was hoping that people googling whether or not thread pitch would matter when swapping tips would find this thread to know it's possible to upgrade those good ol' Schaff models.

    Also, thank you everyone. I'm going to go ahead to tune more pianos and save up for a Faulk, or try out one of those long CF ones. For now, I'm going to enjoy what I have and focus on sharpening my unisons, setting pins and stuff. Coincidentally, I was taught a rather easy temperament (with little to no checks) and I'm in the middle of leaning the Potter one this month to do this properly.

    Anyway, this Watanabe tip is so much nicer. Here is my shortened shaft, de-burred hammer.... with a nice coating of ebony Briwax on the wood for good measure. It came waxed with something thin but I have different preferences there. 


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    Tom Delmonte
    BUFFALO NY
    716-352-5607
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