Pianotech

Expand all | Collapse all

Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

  • 1.  Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Posted 10-30-2022 04:11
    On Facebook I'm in communication with a piano technician who's theme is always the decline of knowledge in the industry and often I present a contrarian perspective.

    The subject of voicing came up the other day - very much a dark art with so many variables and including the purposes for which an instrument has to serve. So . . . I happened to mention that the recommendations for Abel organic or natural felt hammers where that they shouldn't be voiced immediately, that they should be "played in" and then whatever voicing needing to be done could be achieved then.

    However . . . I can't find the source of that information any more. Can anyone help or am I totally mistaken?

    The Abel re-covering process ends up with hammers where the tension is released between the hammers which leads to the edges of the hammers being higher than the middle. Of course this means that the new hammers as supplied don't necessarily mate evenly with all three strings. Filing them straight when new might mean that the compression of hammer-wear becomes different over time and why then it's better to wait before giving them attention.

    Best wishes

    David P




    ------------------------------
    David Pinnegar BSc ARCS
    Hammerwood Park, East Grinstead, Sussex, UK
    +44 1342 850594
    "High Definition" Tuning
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-30-2022 09:08
    For cupped hammers try needle straight down parallel to the wood core to loosen the felt at the center.

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



  • 3.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-30-2022 10:32
    Larry said,"For cupped hammers try needle straight down parallel to the wood core to loosen the felt at the center."

       Yes, do some needle work before filing.   I have also seen the 'cup' greatly lessen after doing the beginning low shoulder needle prep as described in Andre Oerbeck's book.  There is usually some filing necessary, but not as much. 
     





  • 4.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-31-2022 00:37
    I was under the impression that all new hammers were cupped and needed to be filed flat.  If this is actually true then you need to file the hammers after installation, my reasoning being that this is likely the way most if not all manufacturers do it.

    As for "breaking hammers in" we are dealing with a practical life span of a hammer.  Much like our own life, hammers go through a use and aging process and eventually wear out and are disposed of.  You are not making something that will be "permanent", you are only creating another object with a working life span that will age and die, just as we do.

    ------------------------------
    Blaine Hebert RPT
    Duarte CA
    (626) 795-5170
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Member
    Posted 10-31-2022 10:27
    Blaine...

        You are correct about the cupping of new hammers which is caused by the pressing process. The latest Tuner Technician Magazine loaded by Paul Brown describes installation of new hammers. I have seen references to cupping many times but do not know if it applies to ALL new hammers. Perhaps Brooks, Pianotek, Schaff and other hammer suppliers can comment since they offer various levels of hammer services. The key question in my mind is when and how this should be done Do you file off file on the sides of the strike point, Give the hammers heavy test blows against the strings, Beat the felt down with a hammer, use a hammer iron, shape and file or use needle as suggested ?

    ------------------------------
    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Member
    Posted 10-31-2022 15:28
    The cupping is not a result of the pressing process but of the cutting-apart process. The blade releases the tension at the sides and they swell.  Sanding or needling, whichever you prefer.

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

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



  • 7.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-31-2022 15:45
    I believe Ray also said if the blade is dull it will cup more.

    John





  • 8.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Posted 10-31-2022 10:30
    Hello David ~

    If you are buying Abel Natural Felt Hammers through us, the hammers have already been sanded at the factory so they do not arrive with a strong cup in them.

    The Natural Felt Hammer provides immediate tone out of the package; with a consistent, strong, round bass and a clear tenor/treble, not requiring "pre-voicing" as many others do.  IT IS our recommendation, as you have said, to install the hammers first, putting them into the piano to hear them, before approaching voicing.  They are easily voiced up or down, and react quickly to normal filing, needling or the use of light chemicals.  I would think that there are several techs on this list who have used them, hopefully they can chime in with their own experiences to add to this.

    ------------------------------
    Melanie Brooks
    Brooks, Ltd. Piano Products LLC
    Uncasville CT
    (860) 848-6605
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-31-2022 10:42
    Melanie and others

    I've put on Abel hammers on a variety of different brand pianos for over 40 years, all with terrific results. Although, as Melanie said, they sound great "out of the box", I've found that a little juice (B49) on the low shoulders in the middle register, and a little more on the upper treble and bass, adds a little more "oomph" for greater projection. Even with the B49, they are very easy to voice down, to an acceptable tone. But, as with all hammers, especially if you've done any kind of sanding, it's always best to mate the hammers to the strings to get the best tone possible. 

    Wim





  • 10.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Posted 10-31-2022 11:01
    Great information Wim,  thank you for chiming in!  

    --
    Melanie Brooks
    Brooks LTD LLC
    152 Rte 163 Bldg A
    Uncasville, CT 06382
    800-326-2440






  • 11.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Member
    Posted 10-31-2022 12:37
    Melanie  & Wim... thanks for the reply. I have had great results out of the box with Abels. Hammer mating and travelling should be considered as the first step in voicing . I have not needed to do much on these hammers after install and there always has been a huge improvement over what that replaced.

    ------------------------------
    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Member
    Posted 10-31-2022 10:50
    I bought and installed these from Brooks last year.  It's my personal Yamaha C5.  I didn't do any sanding.  Quite a bit of voicing in mid to high treble, but I like a darker tone and Yamahas tend to be bright.  The recording below I made about six months ago.  Since then I voiced down the treble a little further.  I'm very pleased with these hammers and plan to buy the same ones for my Knabe when I get to that point in my rebuild.

    https://youtu.be/yFkn8fYE3YE

    ------------------------------
    Tim Foster
    New Oxford PA
    (470) 231-6074
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-01-2022 07:30

    Thanks for the recording Tim. Your lovely playing and especially sensitive voicing of the Brahms shows that they are ore than capable of producing lots of tone color. Are they as controllable at higher dynamic levels?

     

    Mark

     






  • 14.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Member
    Posted 11-01-2022 08:21
    Thank you very much! And yes, I am able to get great forte sounds, too.  I don't have any recordings at the moment of louder pieces, unfortunately...

    ------------------------------
    Tim Foster
    New Oxford PA
    (470) 231-6074
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-31-2022 12:47

    Hi Mel et al.

     

    I love the Abel Naturals and have installed them on Steinway, Mason and Hamlin, Baldwin and even a couple Yamaha grands.  They all sounded so much better than what I had to work with. I think I've installed at least a dozen.   I took an all day seminar with Wally several years ago in Lincoln, NE and fell in love with them.

    Yes, there is no cupping on the crowns of these hammers. I do pre-voicing procedures taught by Wally and find after hanging them, are very easy to work with and can voice up or down with relatively little work.

     

    Love em!

     

    Paul

     






  • 16.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 27 days ago
    Hi Paul,

    Do you mind briefly describing the pre-voicing procedures that Wally taught?  I haven't been able to attend a class with him since I started experimenting with these hammers.  So far my experience is I've needed to bring them up quite a bit, across the range.

    Nick

    ------------------------------
    Nicholas Litterski, RPT RPT
    Austin TX
    (512) 573-8920
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Posted 27 days ago
    Hi Nickolas,

    I have notes/handout from this class.

    We are attending the MRCO at the moment. If you could shoot an email to office@brooksltdonline.com, requesting a copy of Wally's "working w hammers", I'd be glad to  send one over when we return.

    Melanie
    --
    Melanie Brooks
    Brooks LTD LLC
    152 Rte 163 Bldg A
    Uncasville, CT 06382
    800-326-2440






  • 18.  RE: Voicing Abel "Natural Felt" hammers - or not . . . .

    Posted 27 days ago
    Apologies Melanie for not thanking you. Most helpful. Sorry - last week I was wholly engaged on an assignment in France.

    As the Abel Natural Felt hammers have matured in concert use the sound has been much admired

    Best wishes

    David P

    --
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    David Pinnegar, B.Sc., A.R.C.S.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    +44 1342 850594