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Compass point needling

  • 1.  Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-26-2023 20:12

    Any thoughts on compass point needling before hammer reshaping?



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    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
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  • 2.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2023 09:54

    No. Compass point needling is a very aggressive approach to be used only in the case of over lacquered or hopeless hammers. It's very destructive to the hammer and should be used only as a last last resort. 



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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 3.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2023 14:47

    Larry,

    I don't know why you'd want to do it BEFORE reshaping. Unless you're thinking INSTEAD of reshaping. 

    Peter Grey Piano Doctor 



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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    (603) 686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 4.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2023 15:11

    Before reshaping to hide the puncture holes.



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    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2023 15:55

    Working over the surface vigorously with a ball peen hammer works the wool fibers back into the holes and causes them to expand slightly, bringing back resilience that is diminished by heat pressing.   Even cold or warm pressed hammers can have residual resilience resulting from heat pressing the sheet before it even gets to the hammer maker.  I have promoted the compass needle method for decades now.   The first piano I used it on was a small upright with heat pressed hammers.   I set out to kill the tone because it was in a small room and sounded awful.   I took the action out and laid it on the floor.   I attacked it all over the strike area with blows from a compass point.  Then I wacked away with a heavy ball peen hammer and the holes all disappeared.    It didn't kill the tone at all,   It totally improved of tone.  It opened up and became truly beautiful in the pianissimo ranges.  The deeper layers were unaffected by the needle tip.  So there was no destruction of the forte tone.   The hammers were not destroyed.  The range was expanded by expanding the pianissimo ranges.  20 years later the tone is still magical and the hammers aren't showing any sign of damage.   The method works particularly well on NY Steinway hammers that are over lacquered.     I've got a 7' new Schimmel that I've worked over several times with heavy compass point needling and peening.  I cannot kill the tone.  It just gets warmer.   On the other hand I had a 9' Grotrian c1903 with new heat pressed hammers.  After testing middle C I could tell that any amount of needling would be destructive.   Just peening the strike surface transformed the tone.   I commonly hit string groves with an angled approach.  It gives a lasting warm finish the tone which the clients always appreciate.   Restores tone  in hammers that are shot with deep groves.   It's one of the most important tools in my kit.   I agree that three cornered glovers needles destroy the felt by cutting the fibers. 



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    David Stanwood RPT
    Stanwood Piano Innovations Inc.
    West Tisbury MA
    (508) 693-1583
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  • 6.  RE: Compass point needling

    Member
    Posted 11-07-2023 16:56

    David Stanwood said: "I have promoted the compass needle method for decades now.   The first piano I used it on was a small upright with heat pressed hammers.   I set out to kill the tone because it was in a small room and sounded awful.   I took the action out and laid it on the floor.   I attacked it all over the strike area with blows from a compass point.  Then I wacked away with a heavy ball peen hammer and the holes all disappeared.    It didn't kill the tone at all,   It totally improved of tone.  It opened up and became truly beautiful in the pianissimo ranges.  The deeper layers were unaffected by the needle tip.  So there was no destruction of the forte tone.   The hammers were not destroyed.  The range was expanded by expanding the pianissimo ranges.  20 years later the tone is still magical and the hammers aren't showing any sign of damage." 
    David Stanwood,  10-27-2023 15:55

    David, I've just been contacted to voice down a Kawai vertical whose hammers have been replaced with Bosendorfer hammers, and the owner finds the upper octaves unbearably bright. I've watched the lovely video of the compass point being used on a Steinway D; but is there a video of this treatment of a vertical? How to deal with the dampers, how to support the hammer heads to take the punishment of both the compass point and the ball peen follow-up? Inquiring minds want to know... thanks in advance.



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    Jason Kanter
    Lynnwood WA
    (425) 830-1561
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  • 7.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-07-2023 19:44
      |   view attached

    Hi Jason,

    Just take the action out, lay it on the floor, and back up the tails with a 2x4 or the like.  Hit the surface with the compass point and follow up with peening hammer to settle the disturbance.



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    David Stanwood
    stanwoodpiano.com
    stanwood@tiac.net
    508-693-1583
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  • 8.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-27-2023 15:12

    No David, glover's needles are aggressive 



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    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-28-2023 02:11

    Glover's needless are also aggressive (for different reasons-the sharp edges tend to cut the wool fibers )  but so are compass point due to the diameter of the compass point. I stand by my position that using them is when nothing else will work. 



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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 10.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-28-2023 07:54

    I hear you David.   I find that in many cases nothing else works as well. The compass needle is certainly destructive to the hard the outer surface  while producing a gradient effect into the deeper layers.  Maybe deconstructive is a better word.   Easy to control the effect by the amount of force used when inserting the needle.  I'd call it a more aggressive sugar coating method with a much more permanent effect.  It is mainly a surface effect so if you overdo, a light filing brings up the tone again (in hammers without deep string grooves).    I most often use my compass points on pianos with heavily grooved older hammers using an angled stab as for Angel Shot method.  Just takes a few minutes and the customers really notice and appreciate how it increases pianissimo range without killing the forte tone and improves the general finish of the tone.  My original source from draftingsteals.com went out of business.  I'm using textile needles now which are even sharper than the compass points.  I've got an ample supply.   If anyone wants to try them out, please feel free to contact me personally.  



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    David Stanwood 
    stanwoodpiano.com
    stanwood@tiac.net

    West Tisbury MA
    (508) 693-1583
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  • 11.  RE: Compass point needling

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-28-2023 08:41
      |   view attached

    Here's an video example of pretuning voicing I often do.  Gives a noticible improvement to the finish of the tone and makes for easier unison tuning.



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    David Stanwood
    stanwoodpiano.com
    stanwood@tiac.net
    508-693-1583
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  • 12.  RE: Compass point needling