Expand all | Collapse all

Impact Tuning Hammers

  • 1.  Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-14-2019 23:04
    Hello List,
    I am considering purchasing an impact tuning hammer due to some shoulder issues.
    Uprights are my concern.
    Info and suggestion will be much appreciated.
    Thank you in advance.

    S. Fenton Murray, RPT
    Royal Oaks CA

  • 2.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-14-2019 23:16
    I really like the latest and lightest Reyburn CyberHammer. It's expensive, but worth it.

    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany MS

  • 3.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 00:21
    I had the same shoulder problem, and I purchased a Cyberhammer. For grands I got the C hammer from Levitan. They helped, but need some practice to achieve the same accuracy as with my usual hammer. Email me privately if you want to purchase one or both, as I no longer use them.
    Paul McCloud

  • 4.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 00:42
    Hi Fenton,

    I purchased a used CyberHammer at the beginning of 2018. It took some getting used to, but I'd never go back. I never realized just how much pain I had, and I'm a young guy. It's gone now. I'd highly recommend you invest in one. Either that or look forward to having at least one shoulder surgery and weeks of recovery AND huge doctor bills at some point in your life.

    For instruction on how to use a CyberHammer, check out the Reyburn's YouTube channel.

    Also, I'd recommend going with a CyberHammer. The impact hammers sold at the supply houses are old technology and pretty difficult to use by comparison. Doable, but the learning curve is harder.

    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services

  • 5.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 12:14
    This information is very helpful, thank you.
    Question, are you able to use the impact lever for all tuning?  From pitch raise to your final product.
     Also, the light version of  cyber tuner as opposed to the heavy.

    S. Fenton Murray
    Royal Oaks CA

  • 6.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 12:39
    Hi Fenton:
    It can be used for the whole process. I purchased the extra weight that does help with tight pins. I found that I needed to use some extra finesse beyond just the impact function to really dial in the unisons. I would use some wrist action to settle the pins, giving a little reverse twist to lock the pitch. I did find that once I had the piano tuned, it was very stable, even more than I expected. It really wanted to stay where I put it. I guess with anything new, there's a learning curve. At any rate, yes it will do it all, and for pitch raises it is a real time/effort saver.
    One feature I wish I could have would be a spring to return the tip to the original position, because as you know, it rotates 45 degrees. You want the handle in a certain direction when you put it on the next pin, but the tip may have rotated so you have to realign it. A minor annoyance. Just FYI.

  • 7.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 16:42
    Hi Fenton,

    I agree with Paul that you CAN use an impact hammer for the entire process. I used to, but now use a combination for the majority of my upright tunings. I use my regular carbon fiber lever for the first 8 notes or so (starting from the bottom), then the CyberHammer until I reach octave seven. From C7-C8 (sometimes as late as F7-C8), I use my regular lever.

    The he reason I vary my tuning style is two-fold. First, varying my methods keeps my mind engaged a little more, and my body from wearing out in any one place. Second, personally I find that I can tune the top octave in particular much faster with a regular lever, and I like to save the time when I can.

    I used to to use the impact hammer all the way, but have just changed over time I suppose. Ultimately you'll have to find what works for you. I still recommend you invest in one (and learn the proper way to use it), but ultimately you'll be the one who decides how much and where you'll use it.

    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services

  • 8.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 17:21
    I also use Reyburn impact lever. Over the years I've varied. I always do a final touch up with my old Hale. Proprioception never leaves.

    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes

  • 9.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 18:52
    Yes, you can do pitch raises as well as fine tuning. My first impact lever was the heavier version from about 10-12 years ago. I bought the newest and lightest last year, and it is an amazing difference. So much easier to do a fine tuning with it. After using both, I could never recommend the heavier one.

    As others mentioned, I tune most of the bass with a regular lever. Or, you can switch to tuning left-handed for the bass. But you'll probably want a regular lever for the last bass octave.

    Like Scott Kerns, I use a Fujan carbon fiber lever that is about 17" long. I absolutely love it for the leverage, but there are some clearance issues in the treble end...working around lid props, etc. I would not want to go back to using the regular length Fujan lever for very long. So much better feel and it's definitely easier on the body. I think my tuning has gone up at least one level with the longer lever (and it was already very good...it's that the extra leverage opens up a new world of feel and precision).

    I also tried a Levitan C lever and did not like it. I will be selling mine if you're interested in it.

    John Formsma, RPT
    New Albany MS

  • 10.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 05:28
    After Mr. Levitan produced the “C” lever for uprights, I purchased it mainly because the “C” lever for Grand pianos had eliminated all issues with shoulders because of the way I was able to continue to tune while sitting down on the bench. With the new lever designed for uprights, It took me a while to develop anchor points for my elbows because this C lever is shorter and in vertical position vice the horizontal position of the longer one I use on grands. I also have to lean the lids against most walls with a soft cloth between the walls and where the lid meets it, sometimes having to ask a customer to take something off the wall that is hanging, such as a finely framed painting, not often but sometimes. These C levers although short, sometimes are not short enough to stay clear of the top of the lids if they are leaning forward with a standard lid prop. If I do use a lid prop because I choose not to lean the lid back against the wall, I will place 1 or 2 soft mute wedges underneath the lid prop to change the angle of lid to clear all motion of the C hammer through the tuning. The leverage allows rotation of the pins without the jerking motion. My shoulder has thanked me often for the switch to these C levers. Next thing I look for is a tool to allow me to slide under a grand working on my back on either trapwork or Dampp-Chaser installation or maintenance.

    Please dissregard this in its entirety if you are solidly focused on impact hammers.

    Sent from my iPad

  • 11.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 13:51
    I got a used CyberHammer a few years ago but it didn't work for me because my issue is my wrists, not shoulder. If you have problems with your wrists it's not the way to go! I'd sell you mine really cheap if you wanted to try it out. I also bought the C Hammer which didn't work out for me either. It's a very clever design and does what it says it will do, it just didn't work for me. It's tricky not having your hands "trip" over each other. But again, if you have shoulder issues it could be a good choice. My lever of choice is the Fujan with an extension that makes it 17" long. (Just in case you were wondering. Not trying to sell you on it.) Since my issue is my wrists the extra leverage really helps out.

    Contact me privately if you'd be interested in purchasing either: thattuningguy@gmail.com

    "That Tuning Guy"
    Scott Kerns
    Tunic OnlyPure, TuneLab & Smart Piano Tuner user

  • 12.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 21:07
    I tried the cyber thingee, and had the same wrist issues that Scott seems to have had. Plus, impact technique just is too sloppy for what I want to do when tuning...at least for my body...don't like them at all, or that motion.

    Instead, after much experimenting, I came away with a long lever, much like others have mentioned. I had Charles Faulk make me a custom 15.5" lever, with a thin straight handle. I mostly use it with a 5 degree head, on all uprights, and most grands, except some European grands with deep struts (10 degree on these).   After making my lever, Charles made a similar one for himself, and liked it enough to make a line of long levers, from what he tells me.

    As far as technique, I use my long lever with no shoulder, back or arm movement at all, and certainly no jerking at all! Rather, I lever the thin handle off of struts, upright pinfields, or whatever is close by. Thumb on the lever, finger(s) on rigid parts of the piano. This almost entirely eliminates the flex and slop in the whole arm, shoulder trunk system. Very stable precise results, almost no effort, and I actually prefer tight blocks with this levering technique.

    In any case, whatever ends up working for you, examine the way you use your body, learn about how you are abusing yourself, and re-tool your muscle use, no matter that lever you end up using. Repetitive motions like this will challenge any musculature.  Find a good deep tissue massage person, and have them work your trigger points as a cost of doing business. Get Caire Davies' trigger point therapy book and learn how to diagnose and treat your own issues, in concert with body work folks. In my own case, I have taken a seriously challenged musculature, and rather than see it get worse as I get older, I'm am fixing things that never worked well even at any earlier point in my life. Take this as an opportunity to learn how to age gracefully!

    Jim Ialeggio
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026

  • 13.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-15-2019 23:54
    I've got two! I liked the first one so much I got the fancier model.

    I'll sell the first one for $150 to anyone who contacts me at jim@moypiano.com, it's the equivalent of the current 200 model, with rubber handle. Recently fixed up and lubed by Nate Reyburn. Then I'll spring for the latest with the "Balance Drive" :-)

    Anyway, I do everything on uprights with the newer one: bass, treble, pitch, fine. The one thing I gush about is I *really* like pitch raising with the CyberHammer, it's smooth and efficient, a short pull/push hop to the next pin with my hand staying in the same position on the lever almost the whole time. I've even started practicing moving across the pins without looking: tilt the head slightly "away" from the destination pin making it easier to "latch on" (not very good at it yet...)

    Set Tunelab to auto-up, no mutes needed through the bichords, and move a single mute once every six strings through the trichords. If it's a big pitch correction, you don't even have to mute through the trichords, you can see three peaks easily in Tunelab to set the first reference string, and from there it's easy to listen to the string that's moving. I haven't timed myself yet, but I'm pretty sure it's less than 10 minutes for a PR pass, and best is that it's not frantic motion, just smoothly moving from pin to pin and a few impact whacks to pop the tension up.



  • 14.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-16-2019 06:33
    One might not need an impact hammer is CBL (Counter Bearing Lube) is applied. It's like Power Steering for your hammer. Ask Pianotek if they are going to carry it.


    Jon Page

  • 15.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-24-2019 14:25

    Dear List,
    First, thanks to all for your input.
    I was able try before I buy a very well-engineered Reyburn model 700.
    Thank you Brenda Menge!
    This is not for me.
    My shoulder hurt more reaching for the head/tip assembly and pulling it off then
    putting it on the next note. Back and forth thru the temperament, checking and re-checking
    as I do.
    My 100 + year old, beautifully balanced, Rosewood tuning lever will likely outlast me
    and stay with me as my main axe.
    For 90% of my work my elbow stays by my side, or rests on a name board, or in the
    case of a grand my fore are rests on the stretcher with a pad.
    My lever rests lightly in my fingers as I swing it here and there landing easily onto the pin.
    I don't change my position on the lever, very comfy.
    My shoulder gets more work taking off a heavy front board, or collecting the heavy
    bag of gold my clients pay me.
    I am not at all convinced that my painful condition, which is healing, was from tuning.
    You may now return to your regular programing.
    With great respect to our community,
    many thanks,

  • 16.  RE: Impact Tuning Hammers

    Posted 05-24-2019 15:59
    Hi Fenton,

    Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear that the impact lever didn't work out. Some folks love it, and other hate it. You have to find if it works for you or not; and, judging by your post, it seems you did.

    If your shoulder problems continue to act up, also consider looking into a Carbon Fiber tuning lever. I'm particular take a look at the Charles Faulk, Fujan, or a Reyburn. All three are good hammers, very very stiff and light weight. And yes, they are traditional style levers so you will already know how to use one :)

    Anyway, using a carbon fiber tuning lever as made a huge impact in my tuning skills and my energy levels at the end of the day. Perhaps more so than using an impact lever...

    Here's to your search for the best tuning method for you,

    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services