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Voicing hard Samick hammers

  • 1.  Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    I serviced a Kohler and Campbell (Samick) SKG-600S last week-end, and was trying to make sense of the very glassy tone quality it was producing.  I chose one exceptionally bright hammer on which to do some voicing.  Voicing with three needles was out of the question.  Two needles did not work.  Working with a single needle, I tried to start a ways down on the shoulder and release some tension moving up toward the crown.  Several minutes of work on a single hammer still did not permit the full insertion of the needle anywhere near the crown.  The improvement in tone may well have been imaginary.

    If this were my piano, new hammers would be installed.  I don't think that's a financial likelihood for this client.  Steam, fabric softener and vice grips appeared on the horizon of my thoughts, but never having tried them, and knowing that these methods tend not be be held in high regard in these circles in which I run, I am disinclined to experiment with them on a client's piano out in the field.

    I'm not expecting anyone to come up with a magic bullet, but I would be interested in hearing what positive results you have achieved, short of what I would consider the real solution -- hammer replacement.

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 2.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Floyd.

    I’ve had limited success steam voicing those hammers. But it’s temporary, maybe 6 months at most. I tried fabric softener once and it ruined the hammers. I hear water and alcohol has more long term effect, but it’s also tempting.

    You can explain all those procedures to your client, but you also need to explain that is why they paid less for a piano. A new set of hammers will be a permanent solution. A difference they would have paid from the start.

    Wim.

    Sent from my iPhone




  • 3.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    I've actually had luck using Protek CLP or Prolube to facilitate needling excessively hard hammers. It really does help the needles go in much easier or at least makes them more like a 'normal' hard hammer. It's like juicing hammers - I just give them a good dousing in the areas I'm trying to needle. It doesn't seem to do any harm - and since the hammers are trash anyways, you don't have much to lose.

    Maybe someone lacquered them? If so you probably need to needle right into the crown, perhaps with a lot of aggression.

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    Ryan Sowers
    Olympia WA
    360-705-4160
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  • 4.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago

    Side voicing comes to mind if you don't want to use chemicals. It probably won't do much but it may soften them just enough to allow regular needling. I've never had much success with side voicing and don't care for it much, but if you're desperate….



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    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com
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  • 5.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    I have had good success with plain old vodka. Excellent water to alcohol ratio straight out of the bottle.  A couple of little drops, two or three, across the strike point of the hammer, (where the grooves are), provided very satisfying results. Let it evaporate and dry, which will be completed on the hammers you started with, say, the bass end, by the time you reach the hammers on the other end. Follow that with some light very fine sanding, just enough to get rid of the bumps raised in the felt from being wet. Last time I did this all the customer had was Stolichnaya. He was so happy with the results that he poured us both a couple of shots.

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    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
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  • 6.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago

    Where are you inserting from and where are you aiming for?  

    Try inserting at the strike point aimed at 2:00 or 3:00 and similarly toward 10:00 and 9:00 so that you're only penetrating perhaps 1/8" below the surface of the hammer and effectively loosening just the outer layers. Then back up a bit so you are inserting at 11:30 and aiming at 1:30 which is a cross stitching move. This way you aren't trying to penetrate too deeply into the hammer and you are slowly loosening the outer layers. 

    The other more radical method is called compass point voicing and involves using a literal compass point held in a single needle pin vise. You aggressively needle straight down on the strike point (stabbing motion, not pressing) and then set the felt with a small hammer after you're done. This method definitely works both in hammers that are too hard and hammers that are over lacquered. In send a picture if you want. 



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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 7.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    An unconventional method that does the same thing as compass needle stabbing but is easier, quicker, and more effective is to take a single "angel shot" voicing needle and go right under the string grooves, in a shallow stab that just skims below the surface and stays near the surface (i.e., is underneath the groove and roughly parallel to it. You can see the needle shape just below the surface as it moves.) If more is needed, go between string grooves too.  Can use the same basic technique, but aiming deeper, on the shoulders, and can combine it with conventional angel shot voicing.

    I recently purchased a side voicing tool and tried that in an upright with very bright hammers. It was hard to penetrate the felt and was slow going. I abandoned this and did the above method instead and in about an hour the owner loved the change--  very noticeable. I worked the shoulders, too, using the single needle.




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    Don Dalton
    Chester VT
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  • 8.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Posted 2 days ago
    It's always interesting how peoples experience with the same thing are different. I've had real good results from the side voicing pliers from Piano Forte Supply. They're reasonably priced too.

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    "That Tuning Guy"
    Scott Kerns
    www.thattuningguy.com
    PianoMeter, TuneLab & OnlyPure user
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  • 9.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    It is interesting that sometimes, the top half of a hammer on a vertical is soft and the bottom half is hard as a rock. Have you considered Angel Shot Voicing technique? I like the idea of using lubricant to ease needle penetration. The link below is a 2020 itinerary from our chapter, but it contains good information on Angel Shot voicing.

    ANGEL SHOT DOCUMENT HERE

    Here is a photo of a good vertical voicing tool from Schaff.
    Vertical voicing tool


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    Randy Prentice
    Tucson AZ
    520-749-3788
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  • 10.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    Try using a 50/50 solution of Downy fabric softener and alcohol. Put it in a pump up spray bottle for a fine atomized mist. Apply a two passes to the shoulders and let it dry. Try the hammers. If still too hard, then spray a pass on the crown. Let dry then try. That's what I would do.

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    Michael Evans
    Mansfield TX
    817-822-3591
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  • 11.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Posted 3 days ago
    Sure, you'll fail if you use fabric softener right out of the bottle. You guys may be a little behind the curve ball on this one.
    I have two mixtures 1:2 All Fabric Softener to 2 parts alcohol in 95% of cases
    1:1:1 equal parts All fabric softener, Alcohol, Water for the really dense ones.
    It has been successfully used and vetted by techs around the world now.

    Dissecting the tone of Piano Hammers on Piano World
    Covenant Piano Technicians Worldwide on Facebook
    Lots of videos and tips and usage at those two locations
    Good Luck Guys.
    -chris

    ------------------------------
    Chernobieff Piano Restorations
    "Where Tone is Key"
    chernobieffpiano.com
    grandpianoman@protonmail.com
    Lenoir City, TN
    865-986-7720
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  • 12.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks for the recipe Chris! I've never used fabric softener - although I did buy some of the hammer softener sold by Pianotek. I tried that judiciously on a Baldwin Hamilton with rock hard hammers and it didn't really work, so I saturated them. It really changed the tone, allright, but only because the hammer felt detached from the moldings! Not fun, but luckily I only did the midrange and not the whole piano. So watch out if you are treating hammers that aren't well attached to the moldings.

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    Ryan Sowers
    Olympia WA
    360-705-4160
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  • 13.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Member
    Posted 3 days ago
    Everclear? Susan??

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 14.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks Ryan,
    Its only been a decade since we last met. But that's my fault for moving to TN. LOL
    There is no reason to saturate. Usually it only takes two or three passes with a spray gun to make a tonal improvement. I spray the shoulders mainly just to eliminate the quick sustain decays. For the Attack, i'll spray the top with the 1:2 to soften, and use hairspray or B-72 to brighten. For evening dynamic range across the compass, i use a couple drops on the side of the hammer right above the moulding, and test with repeating  blows.
    A little goes a long way, as a lot of the work was selecting the right hammer.
    -chris

    ------------------------------
    Chernobieff Piano Restorations
    "Where Tone is Key"
    chernobieffpiano.com
    grandpianoman@protonmail.com
    Lenoir City, TN
    865-986-7720
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    I use Everclear in my mixture.

    Pwg

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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 16.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    I’ve had good luck with fabric softener (7:1) with rubbing alcohol (7parts alcohol). Usually the alcohol is 30% water, so that adds the water portion. Like Chris said, depending on what you wish to accomplish, on the shoulders and/or crown. And use little, not saturating.

    I have also tried vodka straight, but found it to be too strong for the piano. Vodka is more like 60% water. Everclear is 4-5% water, and likely you would need to add some to make it an effective tone killer, but you get more control that way.
    Good luck.

    Joe Wiencek
    NYC




  • 17.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Yeah, Everclear is great, BUT the consequences of having a couple of shots with the client can be devastating.

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    Ryan Sowers
    Olympia WA
    360-705-4160
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  • 18.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Try squeezing with vice grips at 3 and 9

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    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
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  • 19.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    Scott,
    Those are the pliers I bought. They work but I found them difficult to use on these hammers, so I resorted back to my single needle. Very hard to get in and out.

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    Don Dalton
    Chester VT
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  • 20.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Thank you for this, Randy. I am a fan of Angel Shot voicing and use it frequently with good results. My biggest problem is finding a pin vise that will hold the needle tight enough to do the job without loosing its grip on the needle. Any recommendations?

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    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
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  • 21.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Part of it is having the right collet for the pin vise.
    There are tons of pin vises and collet sets on eBay.


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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 22.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    For angel shot: Hart voicing tool, the type sold by Schaff.

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    Don Dalton
    Chester VT
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  • 23.  RE: Voicing hard Samick hammers

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    "Angel shot" voicing is typically done with a through the strings single needle tool.  The actual needling method predates the name "angel shot", it's just another needling method and one I use on hard hammers all the time.

    The problem I have with the strict "angel shot" approach (through the strings with a single needle tool) is that it only addresses the backside of the hammer.  You really should pull the action so that if one insertion on the back side of the hammer is not adequate you are alternating between front and back.  You don't really want to be needling just one side of the hammer.  You can (and I do) use a three needle tool for this procedure.  The shallow penetration means you won't get much resistance even from a 3-needle voicing tool on a hard hammer.


    Similarly you can use this approach called "cross stitching".  In this case you are targeting right under the strike point opening up the outer layers of felt.  Be sure to check hammer string mating after both of these approaches as it can change it.


    Top it off by an aggressive pounding directly on the crown to soften the strike point with a tool like this.  This tool is about 6 inches long.




    I don't prefer fabric softeners or pliers.  Too hard to control.

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