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Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

  • 1.  Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 03-31-2021 17:18
    Hello Everybody,

    I am working with a Mason & Hamlin 1916 Model A action and was wodering if anyone out there has the proper specs for this piano, and or any other suggestions for working with this piano action.

    Main Questions:
    1) What is the key height measurement and from where and where to, do I measure? Do I slope the key height so the keys at the center of the keyboard are 1/32" higher like on Steinways?
    2) What are the Dip and AfterTouch settings that work best with this vintage piano?
    3) What is the best Actoin Ratio and Blow Distance for this vintage piano?
    4) Any other suggestions regarding setting up this action properly is very much appreciated.

    I am willing to move the capstan line to achieve the ideal settings, so any suggestions would be helpful.
    I will be installing new WNG repititions and install the heal of the repitition where I want it to be.
    The piano already has new Abel Natural Felt hammers installed.
    Thanks!
    Joe Burros

    ------------------------------
    Joe Burros
    Cell: 646-410-7174
    jbcello@gmail.com
    www.fmi-newengland.com
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-31-2021 22:07

    1.  You have to determine the proper key height setting. First rule: the top of the keys have to fit under the fall board. Second rule: the front of the keys shouldn't bottom out on the key pins. Third rule: the bottom of the key shouldn't be above the front rail pins and should leave at least 1/8" of the key pin above the bottom of the key.  Fourth rule: the front lip of the naturals shouldn’t hit the key slip, Fifth rule: the bottom of the keys should be below the key slip. 

    2.  Dip and aftertouch are related.  The dip will depend on the action ratio and the blow distance. After touch should be not less than .030" and not more than .040"

    3.  The best action ratio will be one that works with the hammer weights that yields a front weight for a medium balance weight 37-38 grams of not greater than 100% of Stanwood front weight maximums. Ideally 80-85%. Figure a safe blow distance is 1 3/4"

    4.  Some MH pianos have very high action ratios driven by high key ratios which means you will have to reduce the hammer weight or lower the action ratio. If you are committed to the hammers you have (see #3)  then you will have to determine, probably by sampling, which action parts will allow for the above without creating touchweight problems. Depending on the vintage MH, a capstan move is often required. Abel makes an 18mm knuckle for that piano if necessary but I'm not crazy about using those.


    ​​

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



  • 3.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Posted 04-01-2021 00:08


    Alexander Brusilovsky





  • 4.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Posted 04-02-2021 10:49
    Similar to David's procedure.
    In Dale Erwin's shop I would set the key height to the fall board and key slip. Then I check how much pin is in the key. Do that by picking a key up and setting in on the top of the pin. Measure the difference on the key next to it.
    My philosophy is the full 3/16 of bushing cloth that is in the key should have full bearing on the key pin. The initial strike of the key is where the max change in force happens.
    Then look at the pins because the machined section sometimes doesn't start until 1/16 of an inch from the top of the pin.
    With this criteria, the difference in key height from the one sitting on top of the pin will be 1/4 inch. I am happy with 3/16th if the bottom of the keys aren't visible.
    If you have a stack of front rail punchings then 5/16th is ok as long as the keys look right with the case parts on.

    ------------------------------
    Keith Roberts
    owner
    Hathaway Pines CA
    209-770-4312
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-02-2021 18:35
    Hi Joe,
    David's suggestions are spot on. There are no standard regulation specs which can be guaranteed to work on this (or any) piano, it depends on the geometry and parts involved.

    We do free geometry analysis on any piano for those in the rebuilding trade. You'll need to take 9 or 10 measurement which take about 30 minutes, then fill out our web form at:

    https://www.reyburn.com/geometry.html

    The instructions have pictures at:

    https://www.reyburn.com/geometry.pdf

    We use the same software to analyze your action geometry which we use for designing new keyboards and stacks. Typically I get back to you with suggestions, for instance a change in action parts or a capstan move.

    Best regards,

    -Dean Reyburn, RPT

    ------------------------------
    Dean Reyburn, RPT
    Reyburn Pianoworks
    Reyburn CyberTuner
    1-616-498-9854
    dean@reyburn.com
    www.reyburnpianoworks.com
    www.cybertuner.com
    www.martysmasks.com
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/dean.reyburn
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 04-04-2021 16:21
    Thanks David, Keith and Dean for your recommendations.
    After thinking about this for a few days and reading up on the resources I have on determining proper key height, a few questions arise.

    1) After I achieved the tolernces for key height that David and Keith has laid out, how do I fine tune the key height so it is at its optimum setting? It seems that there is some fudge factor inherent in setting the key height by the fallboard, key slip and pin clearances. Is this fudge factor acceptable and harmless to the action, or can and should key height be fine tuned?

    I did read a comment by David Love in another post where he stated that the string height is also helpful in determining the key height. Would this be another measurement to use to fine tune the key height?

    My PTG Piano Spec reference guide says that pre-Aeolian M&H model A's should have a key height of 2 1/2" inches, from I assume the keybed to the top of the key. Is this a measurement to start from and then fine tune depending on string height, and fallboard, key slip and pin clearances?

    Thanks, this info is very helpful to me!

    ------------------------------
    Joe Burros
    Cell: 646-410-7174
    jbcello@gmail.com
    www.fmi-newengland.com
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-04-2021 16:40
    Hi Joe,

    For what it's worth, my late, great mentor, Keith Hardesty, had this take on your question about fine tuning key height where there is some latitude to do so: If the case parts and back rail thickness permit, the key should be at a two degree angle inclined up. That way, the key's arc is toward the player. (If less than 2o, it would be way from the player, in all or part of its travel.) I mentioned this in a class taught by LaRoy Edwards years ago, in response to the question, "If you had an unusual action before you and it was missing its back rail cloth, how would you determine the correct thickness?"

    Alan

    ------------------------------
    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-04-2021 19:54
    And what was Mr. Edward's response?

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 04-04-2021 20:33
    The at rest position, which establishes key height, does effect where the half stroke line ends up.  In the design protocol Bruce Clark taught a bunch of us, nailing the half stroke line in the design was important, and thus key height at rest was important. However, I no longer worry about nailing the half stroke line, to the degree Bruce taught me. This means key height, for me, is more a question of how much room the space under the fallboard allows, along with other cavity and case part conditions others have mentioned above. The bandwidth of acceptability is defined by other "hard" as-built dimensions.

    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-05-2021 06:32
    I agree with what has been said about key height and stroke but this is something to think about;  If the piano was built or rebuilt with the case parts not being of ideal position, because of say a too high plate height or wrong hammer bore distance you might have a too big a space at the fall board or need a different key height. 

    I had a S&S D that someone rebuilt with a high plate height and changed bore distance and basically everything was thrown off.  1st time I saw this piano I instantly was drawn to how much space there was between the top of naturals and the bottom of the fall board.  This piano could not be regulated to S&S specifications.  Don't ask, I had help and had to redo. 

    Our observations are incredibly important and can save a lot of time.  
    Jessica Masse






  • 11.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-05-2021 00:17
    Hi Peter,

    LaRoy said that he hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes sense. (I think the answer he was looking for was a combination of the parameters dictated by the case parts and minimal balance rail punchings.)

    Alan

    ------------------------------
    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-05-2021 01:31
    I wrote that the string height is helpful in determining the key height?  I am unaware of that.  I'd be curious what I wrote.  String height certainly affects hammer bore distance but not sure how it would affect key height exactly.  There is a series written by John Hartman some years ago on Action Elevations that might be helpful if you want to really delve into this.  It  must go back some year in the journal, maybe 1980s--I don't recall exactly.  It will tell you more than you'll ever want to know unless you are designing an action.

    There is a fudge factor and you do have some leeway.  Some of this depends also on backrail cloth thickness which is important in terms of damper underlever interface and damper lever angle, though you can make adjustments there by modifying the key end felt.  Just like regulation one thing affects another and so it's best when starting from scratch to test it out by setting a sample and see how everything falls into place.  You can really get into the weeds here by looking at convergence lines (sometimes called "the magic line") between wippen centers and balance rail contact point making sure the capstan travels through that line, for example.  But with things like key height you are limited to a great degree by what the case parts dictate.

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



  • 13.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 04-06-2021 08:23
    Action Elevations: Bob Hohf, May 2000

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 04-06-2021 14:05
    Wow! The Action Elevations articles by Bob Hohf is a 4 part series in the 2000 May, June, August, and September Journal. I have the DVD of past Journal years loaded on my computer, so I will study these articles over the next few days and report back here if there is any relevant information as the the setting of key height.

    After doing a quick search of past Journal Articles I came up with this article regarding Key Height:
    1993-September, Pg. 39 Key Regulation by Don Mannino.

    There are a number of past articles on Key Levelling, so there may be some good information pertaining to Key Height there, but it will take some time to look at all those. If I have time I will do that.

    ------------------------------
    Joe Burros
    Cell: 646-410-7174
    jbcello@gmail.com
    www.fmi-newengland.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 04-06-2021 21:14
    Thanks for that correction Jon. Bob Hohf was the author not John Hartman. Good series of articles.

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



  • 16.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 05-08-2021 17:43
    Here is a copied post that was written by Jim Ialeggio that is relevant to this post. You can see the original post at:

    https://my.ptg.org/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?MessageKey=92d5541b-3744-46eb-b26a-a58cafb6d32a&CommunityKey=6265a40b-9fd2-4152-a628-bd7c7d770cbf&tab=digestviewer#bm92d5541b-3744-46eb-b26a-a58cafb6d32a


    Determining key height vs action cavity dimensions

    There was a thread re determining key height recently.  Most were agreeing that parameters of the action cavity determine how high or low, the "as-built" piano will allow you to set key height.  The determining factors were:

    -what is the space between top surface of the keys at rest and the bottom of the closed/felted fallboard
    -what is the height of the top of the keyslip in relation to key top at full dip (meaning you don't want to key to hit the keyslip, at full dip)
    -keeping the number of punchings at the balance rail pin minimized (meaning a large stack of punchings is not a stable situation)
    -reducing thickness of backrail cloth allows one to raise key height, without adding too many balance rail punchings, if too many punchings is looking like a problem
    -assuring chosen key height will allow you to regulate the key at the chosen dip (meaning, make sure there is enough height to allow adequate numbers of front punchings to accommodate inconsistencies...one does not want to find 3/4 of the way through the entire regulation, that the key height on 5 oddball notes does not allow you to achieve required dip...requiring you to raise key height and undo huge amounts of your regulation)

    What we didn't discuss is that the above may appear to suggest that action cavity dimensions, ie distance from keybed to bottom of fallboard at rest, keyslip height, and spreader distance to keybed, are always nice and parallel. While it would be nice for the action cavity given dimensions to be parallel and consistent, parallel is an anomalous condition in the majority of pianos. Assuming parallel, has a way of kicking one in the butt down the line. That is, no dimensional assumptions can be made in restoration work, especially when it comes to forefinishing.

    One must correctly ascertain the non-parallel aspects of the action cavity first, placing the finished/felted cheek block and fallboard and slip in place, and measuring at multiple places before deciding what dimension you are actually working to, in order to ascertain key height. Compromise describes the normal state of affairs in determining what dimensions will be held tight and what dimensions will be massaged.

    I just had this come up in a piano I am wrapping up...well actually it comes up in every fore finishing job, but this came to mind because of the recent thread.  I played the chess game, trading off the various action cavity givens and inconsistencies, and arrived at a workable solution for key height. However, is was just barely workable. I knew the fall board was not parallel to the keybed by about 2mm at its worst. Came up with a compromise key height, and it regulated...but just by the hair of my chinny-chin- chin.

    The client finally added the replacement of the whips, after seeing the rest of the instrument blooming. I went back and re-did much of the regulation, and revisited key height...raised it .020 at the treble, and after much thought, raised the bass an unequal amount, .040 as the fallboard was off. Bass section has a bit too many balance punchings for my liking, but the other 3 sections do not have too much.  There is a little more room for front punchings now, and the gap between fallboard and top of keys is better and more consistent.

    What I really should have done, way back at the beginning, is re-set the fallboard height, or used a non-standard key end felt to lower the back of the keys.  But back at that point, which would have been early in the rebuild, it is really hard to know what final regulation dimensions will be, as the action wasn't rebuilt yet...you get the picture...the chicken and the egg. Sometimes, given all the unavoidable inconsistencies, making the proper decision is easier in hindsight, than it is in the heat of battle.  Both of my key heights worked,  but my preferred solution would have been to change fallboard height, or key end felt, way back at the beginning. Of course, then, if I had moved the fallboard I would have had to prove it still closed properly.

    Just a post to illustrate how interactive such a simple decision as key height, actually is, rather than just saying " in all Steinway's, key height is xyz inches".



    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------


    ------------------------------
    Joe Burros
    Cell: 646-410-7174
    jbcello@gmail.com
    www.fmi-newengland.com
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Member
    Posted 05-08-2021 18:01
    Follow Up after doing some research on setting Key Height:

    After reading a number of Journal articles and various resources in my piano technology library I have come up with the following deductions about setting Key height. Please let me know if you agree with my observations below.

    1) Most experienced technicians feel that there is an acceptable range for the setting of white key height based on how the keys line up to the open fallboard, the key slip, the front key pin, and the balance rail pin.

    2) The only reasons that I can see to further fine tune key height would be to achieve a better Magic Line, and/or to incline the keys upward at a 2 degree angle as Alan Eder wrote in his reply to this post. (I did not come across the 2 degree suggestion anywhere in my readings.)

    Articles and resources that I read:
    - PTJ Article, May-Sept. 2000 - Action Elevations Parts I-IV by Bob Hohf
    - PTJ Article, Sept. 1993 - Key Regulation by Don Mannino
    - PTJ Article, November 2010 - Using Action Rations as a guide to Key Regulation by Norman Cantrell
    - PTG Grand Regulation Manual - Key Height, Pgs. 26-28
    - Randy Potter Piano Course, Chp. 3.2, pgs. 16-17
    - Roger Jolly book on regulation
    - Various PTG Forums on setting key height


    ------------------------------
    Joe Burros
    Cell: 646-410-7174
    jbcello@gmail.com
    www.fmi-newengland.com
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Wanted: Mason Hamlin 1916 Model A - Key Height, Dip, AfterTouch, Action Ratio & Blow Distance Suggestions

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-09-2021 13:25
    Joe,

    Sounds like a plan.

    I too had to wrestle with a SS that had weird non-parallelisms in this regard. I never actually figured out how much of it came from the factory and/or how much came from a previous rebuild...but weird it was and I had to deal with it much as Jim described (just barely made it on one end). Drove me nuts for quite a while trying to figure it all out.

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------