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Paraloid B72 / Bacon Hammers for a Steinway B. Abel parts duty-cycle.

  • 1.  Paraloid B72 / Bacon Hammers for a Steinway B. Abel parts duty-cycle.

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Hello fellow-members,
    Can you share any experience or thoughts regarding the longevity of fairly recent Ronsen Bacon hammers?
    I'm installing new hammers on a Steinway B, teacher in a home studio, high use piano but concert power / projection not desired.
    I'm considering either Ronsen Bacon hammers adjusted with Paraloid B72, or Ronsen tension-modified Weichert hammers as a special request (which he will do). Also voiced as needed with B72.
    For reference, original Steinway hammers, current, special order non-dipped would also be good. But sadly in the past I've received too many Steinway hammers with splitting of the wooden core along the sides. Sometimes this machines away during thicknessing and tapering, but sometimes the flaking compromises the area under the strike point too much. Save this reason, I'd probably order a lot more Steinway hammers for Steinway hammers, by default.
    This would be my first experience with buying and using B72 hammer solution. I've read a bit about it on this forum, and I would definitely try something that delivers a more stable and long-lasting result, i.e., felt maintains flexibility, less disintegration from introduced brittleness.
    Thoughts and experiences appreciated.
    Also any experience regarding long-term durability of Abel hammer shanks and repetitions. Will they hold up as long as Renner pinning / bushing? Perhaps also, compared to recent production Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai and Tokiwa parts pinning. The specific one I'm most concerned with is how well hammer shank / flange pinning holds up, and does not become loose too soon with heavy use. As you know, excessive looseness of hammer shank pinning compromises tone. The last think you want is pinning that gives out before the hammers are worn out. In the MD-VA region, I've found Renner shank pinnings are sometimes too tight even over time, and that has to be addressed, but they seem to last a very long time without getting loose, if never abused or incorrectly sized.
    I haven't mentioned WNG for this Steinway project, but I've used their parts in the past for other work.
    I hope thoughts and experiences can be shared in a friendly way that is respectful toward the manufacturers mentioned here. Folks will have their favorites and I'm curious to know what they've experienced out there when parts get some serious use over time. Perhaps consider highlighting good results rather than detailing poor results?
    Thanks.

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    Tom Wright, RPT
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  • 2.  RE: Paraloid B72 / Bacon Hammers for a Steinway B. Abel parts duty-cycle.

    Posted 2 days ago
    I have used B-72 on several sets of Ronsens. Mostly Wurzen and one set of Bacon.  I primarily use it to even out the FF portion of the dynamic range across the keyboard.  I'll pull the action out and voice from the side right above the moulding. The advantage B-72 offers over lacquer is the ability to not cause a ping.
    -chris

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    Chernobieff Piano Restorations
    "Where Tone is Key"
    chernobieffpiano.com
    grandpianoman@protonmail.com
    Lenoir City, TN
    865-986-7720
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  • 3.  RE: Paraloid B72 / Bacon Hammers for a Steinway B. Abel parts duty-cycle.

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    Bacons are really mostly all I use, and all I've used for the last 6 or 7 years. They are stiffer than they used to be for sure, I believe, after Ray went to the Bacon factory, and showed them how to upgrade their felting machine. I just wish I could get a lighter molding than the soft maple...some of the maple used in there can be quite dense.

    I use very little B-72 on the Bacons, but it is what I use to stiffen them when I need it. I use ethanol, not acetone...much prefer how the stuff behaves with Ethanol. I don't use it on the low shoulders at all, ever. Sometimes I will turn the stack on its side and hit the core right over the moulding in the bass only. That gave some needed power to the lovely bass of a recent very nice L rebuild. High treble, I used to soak well, but I am using less and less these days. Hammer shape, bringing them to a point does a lot of the voicing for me, but I do often do the high shoulders in the high treble, and then crown if that doesn't get me there.

    First capo and tenor, often, when the action has not been played in, either with a keypounder or whatever, needs, at first a portion of a drop of medium strength  on each string mark. This will break down almost immediately, as I play the action in in the shop. After it breaks down, I do it again, partial drop medium at the 3 string marks, and it last better this time. At first you may get a little ping, the second time. Play it in, and the ping will dissipate.

    As far as shank pinning...give it up. All the options will need service over the long haul, including WNG hard bushings...sad but that is the reality. Wooden and felt parts, take much center work before installation, sometimes I feel like I have to rebuild every set of parts that comes in. MAkes me wonder why I don't just restore the existing whippens sometimes. WNG can be real good, or need work...the sets I have gotten have been inconsistent in this regard, though recently, they have been extremely good.

    I will be asking Ray to use David Love's low profile skiving of  Bacon felt on the next set. I had used the low profile skiving on Weikerts, but really did not like the weikert felt, as I had to chase it constantly.

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 4.  RE: Paraloid B72 / Bacon Hammers for a Steinway B. Abel parts duty-cycle.

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday

    Thank you Chris and Jim. Very helpful input that I will pay close attention to with the B72. Bacon hammers for this piano.

    For hammer material, cherry, walnut and many other native species are obviously stable and lighter than maple. Also easy to obtain. But they have to be resilient against splitting when those staples are propelled in from opposite sides. Change the staple to a single t-staple like an abel hammer, pre-drill, and then wood selection is opened up - perhaps? Pounding those staples into such a narrow area on a small piece of wood is asking a lot of any wood species, IMHO.

    If I were to make a hammer I think I'd start with a pressed T-staple inserted through a pre-drilled pilot hole. However, I'd want it tight enough to not rattle, ever. I've heard hammer rattling that I suspect was this, once other things were ruled out to best of ability. IMHO...

    Poplar comes to mind for a lighter hammer, yes / no? Of course, what's wrong with mahogany? Hammers use up so little wood, especially for a boutique specialty application. Sapele (from Africa) was being offered at Ronsen, but its not the same as softer mahoganies one sees being used for acoustic guitar necks. Sapele feels heavier and can have a wavy interlocking grand that doesn't help its workability sometimes. I believe the guitar neck Mahogany is what one would wish for light hammers. Very stable, very homogenous in grain and texture. Strong and light. That would be Genuine Mahogany, or Honduran Mahogany, grown on plantations. Also available from sinker logs. Forests are plagued and threatened by gluttonous excessive demand for mahogany by richer countries - that started about 250 years ago...
    Also: African Mahogany, a viable substitute, same family as Sapele but much closer in properties to genuine mahogany.
    The crispness and slightly brittle nature of Mahogany, particularly as the end-grain orients for checking, I think is quite unique when combined with its light weight. But Sapele possesses a harsh, brittle and microcrystalline mineral quality that seems to aid checking performance. That same quality dulls blades :) Soft Maple on the other hand, I don't think holds up as well.

    You could 3D print hammer cores with a decent selection of material qualities, made to exact shape and weight, with a diamond texture pattern for back-check contact.... boy, I'm starting to repeat myself here. Meh.. I'm obsessed with hammers. What's new.





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    Tom Wright, RPT
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  • 5.  RE: Paraloid B72 / Bacon Hammers for a Steinway B. Abel parts duty-cycle.

    Member
    Posted yesterday
    As you know from the voice down-voice up discussion, I am a Ronsen Bacon fan. These hammers, when properly weighted and voiced, give the mellowest pp and the most full, vibrant ff. I rebuilt a Chickering 135 that required no B-72 except for the very few top notes, and with very even voicing. Only the bass break needed some attention which one would expect. When I use B-72, I use a weak ratio of 12:1 and bring the hammer up slowly. It gives me more control in evening out the voicing. I won't use anything else but Ronsen Bacons. Give me lightened Ronsen Bacons every time.

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    Michael Evans
    Mansfield TX
    817-822-3591
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