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 Post subject: The life span of the piano's action
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:39 am 
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My Kawai RX3's action is wearing out. Ten years of some serious practice hours and three hurricanes have taken a toll. I'm getting it replaced next month, I think I want to wait until that's done before posting recordings. It will be worth the wait. I can hardly wait.

Pete


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:23 am 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Ten years and that's it!? :shock: I thought piano actions are suppose to be designed and built to last for ages. Bu then again, Hurricanes do make a difference.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:54 pm 
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If the action is left unmaintained it will deteriorate over time. Nothing that can't be fixed though. The RX3 is a great instrument and should have a lot more years in it.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:50 am 
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Location: Germany
I think the most important thing what wears out with audible losses, are the hammer felts. They can and should be maintained. My tuner said, when the length of the notches in the hammer felts coming from the strings, reach the length of about 10 mm, the hammer felts should be sandpapered, followed by some intonation works (needling). That can repeated 2 times, or even 3 times over the years. After that the hammer felts are too small through the sanding, and should be replaced. The other action parts should hold longer. On the other side, 10 years of some hours usage every day, that are several 1000 hours of usage already. So the first question is to determine whether it is sufficient to replace only the hammer felts, or the complete hammers, or the complete action.

If replacing the complete action is the choice, you may consider replacing the action by an action from "Renner". I think they have the best reputation throughout the world. I used them on my old grand (the original action was 75 years old!) and the result is a really perfectly balanced action. The piano will play your 10/1 etude without additional effort from you :D . The way is, that you need to sent some different hammers to Renner so that they deliver exactly the needed hammer weigth, dimension and material.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:04 am 
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Olaf, are these Renner action parts a great deal different than what comes on a piano, for instance on my Yamaha. You probably don't know what's in my piano, but do you think the action is much inferior to Renner? Do you have any idea how much it costs to replace these parts? (I think you did it yourself, right?)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:31 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Olaf, are these Renner action parts a great deal different than what comes on a piano, for instance on my Yamaha. You probably don't know what's in my piano, but do you think the action is much inferior to Renner? Do you have any idea how much it costs to replace these parts? (I think you did it yourself, right?)


No, I did it not myself. I never would take my hand on my Steinway (only for smaller retunings if some notes start to wobble too much, and only on my Upright I try to do some maintenance myself).

I don't know how different the action would be, but I can say that the action in my piano is very easy going, the downweight of the keys goes from 47 to 49 gramm from right to left side, and really very good balanced. The keys go back very fast too. This, combined with the new hammer felts and intonation, eases to play soft. This is the main difference I see compared to the 75 years old worn out hammers. I also don't know the costs, my acoustic restauration with that Renner action, new strings, soundboard restauration, intonation took about 9.500 Euro, about 12.000 US-$. That is lot of money, but I have an acoustic seen new Steinway, and I swear, that is the best used money I spent so far, and am still happy after 2 years of the restauration.

You should ask an independant piano restauration factory. I even don't know whether every piano brand is suitable or that it is recommended for that action. But I know that Steinway and Bechstein have Renner actions by default in their pianos.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:46 am 
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Thanks Olaf. I think the action in my piano is good, in that it comes back quickly for fast repeating notes, but I feel that the first press down on the key is a little stiff. I have trouble with trills and think this is why. (I suppose it could be bad technique)
I'll ask my piano guy if it's possible to adjust this.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:07 pm 
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First key press is stiff? It would be easy to check the downweight: place some coins on the top of a black or white key, just at the end of a key (with pressed sustain pedal, so it is "official" measured) until the key goes just down. Then you can check with how much coins the key goes back. Then you can measure both coin weights on a normal weighing machine. If it is more than 55 gramm needed, than it is a heavy action. It would be good if the upweight is only 20 gramm less (the less difference between downweight and upweight, the better - for trills the key comes back faster!).
And of course this way you can measure if only some keys are too heavy or if it is well balanced.

The problem is, if it is a heavy action, additional lead in the key would help that the keys go down easier, however they don't come back that easy anymore. That is then an inherent action problem.

I really would be interested in your measurements, if you like to check!

You may consider just replacing the hammers or the hammer felts. The costs aren't that high for that. My tuner said, the hammers deliver about 80% of the sound, new strings or soundboard restauration is the rest. So new hammers work wonder. However: new hammer felts or hammers need a new intonation. That means many hours of preparation - every hammer felt must be needled endless (200 pricks or so per hammer?). And after some pricks the hammers must be checked acoustically - too much needling and the hammer is worthless and needs to be replaced in worst case. That are the real costs - a day or some days of work for an intonation specialist who is used to intonate Yamahas.
The good thing, this can (and should?) be done in your home, so at the end you have a piano intonation according to your home acoustic! An advantage regarding intonation of a brand new piano in a default room!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:00 pm 
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I don't have a scale but I looked up the weight of american coins and added everything up. I used the middle C-sharp black key.
I got 63.09 grams downweight and 34.02 upweight. That means I really do have heavy action, right? and it is not all in my head.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:41 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
I don't have a scale but I looked up the weight of american coins and added everything up. I used the middle C-sharp black key.
I got 63.09 grams downweight and 34.02 upweight. That means I really do have heavy action, right? and it is not all in my head.


Yes, thanks for the info. If you put the coins on the key tip and not further away, it seems to be very heavy. On the other side, now I remember that I could choose to use hammer forms like they used original in my piano 75 years back or nowadays hammer forms. The nowadays hammers are heavier and larger, able to produce a stronger tone. I opted for original hammer form, since it is already loud enough for our living room that way. It CAN be that the heavier hammers mean too stronger downweight. Better ask your piano maintenance guy (and keep us updated!). I am not curious, I only need to know it :lol:

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