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voicing question

  • 1.  voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-23-2023 20:46

    I replaced the H/S/F with Abels on a D in the recital hall. I juiced them a lot with B72, and for the most part the piano professor is happy with the results, except....

    She wanted a lot of bass, so that's what she got. I thought I did a great job on 5 & 6, but now she says the bass overpowers the treble. I've got about as much B72 in the killer octaves as I want to give it, so I'm reluctant to add any more. But how can I get more power out of 5&6 without adding more juice?  I've already told her that the solution is to take away some of the power out of the bass, and she's willing to accept that, but I told her I would ask the wisdom of my friends. 

    What say ye...


    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    St. Augustine, FL 32095

  • 2.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-23-2023 21:36
    Not at all sure what to suggest for the killer octave, but I'd like to hear about your experiences removing B72 when needed. Method? How effective is it? 


  • 3.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-23-2023 22:21

    I didn't say anything about removing B72.  All I said I needed to voice the hammers with B72 down. 

  • 4.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-23-2023 22:02

    Your only option is softening the bass. You have no wiggle room in the mid treble, plus even if there were wiggle rooom, that's the last place you'd want to try something uncertain. Put a 3/8" let-off in the bass to let her try out a weakened bass section.

    William Ballard RPT
    Saxtons River VT

    "Our lives contain a thousand springs
    and dies if one be gone
    Strange that a harp of a thousand strings
    should keep in tune so long."
    ...........Dr. Watts, "The Continental Harmony,1774

  • 5.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-23-2023 22:15

    Isn't the power control over the bass at her fingertips? Maybe she could learn more control and have the extra bass when needed?

    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes

  • 6.  RE: voicing question

    Posted 05-24-2023 07:42

    None of us can say confidently what is going on without being there but too often people expect optimal/balanced results immediately, before the hammers have been played in. That is also an important part of the process. Some pianos work out nicely right away, but not all of them. Every piano and every set of hammers is different.  Once I have applied the limit of hardener I am comfortable with, and if more is desired, I explain that time has to have its chance to work. You can guarantee it will come up more with playing, especially that range. Meantime, be patient and deal with it. 

    Dennis Johnson

  • 7.  RE: voicing question

    Posted 05-23-2023 22:25

    Its simply a bad strategy in the first place to use a lot of a hardener, especially B-72. I find just one pass of shellac on the strike point gives each of the bass notes enough distinction. I've ditched B-72 as a way to develop fortissimo in the dynamic range of each hammer because of its softness. One or two drops of sandarac right above the moulding to bring it  up a little if needed.  Now you know why to do the bass last. To bring power down, the only way i've found that works is to needle straight through the strike point to the moulding. Water/alcohol wont work, because using a lot of b72 really starts gumming up the felt. Maybe replacing just the bass hammers is a good option if you cant reverse enough.


    Chernobieff Piano Restorations
    "Where Tone is Key"
    Piano Designer and Maker
    Designer of Inertia Touch Wave
    865-986-7720 (text only please)

  • 8.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-23-2023 22:50
    Thanks, Chris 

    I love voicing with shellac. I'll print out your post. 

  • 9.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-24-2023 12:18

    How much playing time on the hammers?  I assume not much yet.  The hammers will develop but it takes some time. You can try pounding the hammers against a hard wooden block but that can take some time and effort.  Still, my guess is that after some playhing time those hammers might well be too hard.  So I'd quit with the hardeners at this point but I don't think that's the likely problem, or a mistake.  

    Concert instruments require instant results and that's unfortunate as a hammer that is allowed to develop is always better but I would probably start to remove some felt in that section, one note at a time (start with the worst one), slowly with a fine polishing up to 1000 grit after each reduction. The filing will accomplish a few things, first it will remove some felt and get you down to harder felt nearer the hammer core, that should add some power. Second it will remove some mass which will reduce hammer string contact time and reduce the hammer's natural damping effect, that should make it a bit brighter.  Third it will move the strike point in a bit toward the capo bar which will also reduce contact time.  

    Before you do that I would be sure that your strike point position is optimized, do this by ear by shifting the action in and out at the treble end, keep the bass cheek block in place.  The capo section on some Steinway Ds requires a shift of the strike point sometimes.  

    I would not, at this point, try and remove the B72 or switch to a different hardner (like shellac).  I think that would be a mistake and likely make matters worse.  

    David Love RPT
    415 407 8320

  • 10.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-25-2023 09:59
    Here is something odd I’ve never run across. I’m voicing the bass on this piano, and one note Bb1 is brighter than the other notes around it, but no matter what I do, I can’t get it softer. So I changed the hammer with a note that does sound good, and guess what. The Bb still sounds brassy.

    Could it be something in the strings? This is the last tri-chord on the piano.

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 11.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-25-2023 12:32

    Hey Wim.

    Were the strings replaced on that note recently?


  • 12.  RE: voicing question

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-25-2023 13:03