Tag Archives: piano technician

metropolitan museum: curator emeritus of the musical instrument collection

libin-marc

“Piano history isn’t over. You’re writing a new chapter. Thanks! ~ Laurence Libin”

Musical Instrument Collection

Laurence Libin, Curator Emeritus of the Musical Instrument Collection, Metropolitan Museum, NYC – after playing the first production prototype Stanwood Adjustable Leverage Action by David Stanwood, April 2009

WGBH piano video shows mathematics in service of world culture

This video was created by WGBH Public Television Boston for the Annenberg Network series on Mathematics as an example of someone who has put Algebra to use in the real world in service of world culture.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cT5GOcprEY[/youtube]

There are three additions I’d like to make:

strike-weight-see-saw4

When using 1 gram blocks simulating the piano hammer out on the far end of a see saw,  the movie shows me placing the block on the table instead of on the end of the beam.

The reason, which is not shown,  is that I place weights along the beam to simulate all the parts of the key.  When they are in place then I place the 10gram weight on the end of the seesaw and slide it along until this beam is balanced.

How far out the weight is on the beams tells the weight ratio of the action.

Finding the position for a known weight on a see saw so that the see saw balances level is an analogy for solving an equation for a single unknown variable.

strike-weight-hamburg

When displaying the hammer weight analysis of a Hamburg Steinway D in Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory of Music. The data shows a big dip in the weight.

This is the way it came from factory and it’s usually the hammer weights are found to be smoother in these pianos but you never know until you measure them..

What the video does not say is that the dashed lined on the graph just above the hammer weights is the new Precision Touch Design specification after  modifying and upgrading this action.

Lead weights were inserted into the wooden portion of the piano hammer to bring the weights up so specification.

The result is a more even and predictable result in the response of the keys and more evenness in the tone.   Bringing the weight level up also increases the projection of the sound and fullness of the tone which is important in a concert hall.

wippen-support-spring

After showing a graph of how much lead weight is in the keystick from the factory and how the equation is used to smooth out the weight inconsistencies, I mention that we use a wippen support spring added to the existing parts.

A combination of spring tension and lead weight is used to create a faster, quicker action without giving up hammer weight and tone.

It should be noted that we do not do this to all Stanwood Action jobs.  It is what we call a “High Performance Option”.

Fazioli: invention makes playing a superb piano even more enjoyable

fazioli F228

Wow!

That was my first reaction after the Stanwood Precision Touch Design was installed.

Suddenly I was able to play passages that had always eluded me, or demanding pieces like the Chopin etudes that previously I could only stumble through.

In the past I assumed the problem was with me. What a revelation to discover that I had much greater potential as an amateur pianist than I ever imagined – as long as the piano was performing at its top capability.

David Stanwood selects his technicians carefully and trains them well.

My technician wanted to understand completely what I was looking for in a piano action, and exactly how I played the instrument (did I stroke the keys, or push down more heavily).

Everybody’s style of playing is somewhat different, and one of the great benefits of the Precision Touch Design is that it corresponds to your style of playing. My technician also recommended an enhancement to the Precision Touch Design – adding magnets to the action to improve responsiveness and tonal control.

I was nervous at first about installing the Precision Touch Design. My instrument is an older model Fazioli F228, which is already an exquisite piano.

The Precision Touch Design improvements, however, were immediately discernible and very substantial. They made playing a superb piano even more enjoyable.

Frankly, I wish I had done this a lot earlier. I wasted years blaming myself and my technique, when all along it was the instrument that needed improvement.

I’ll leave you with just one example.

Beethoven’s last movement of his Waldstein sonata has some famous octave glissando passages. I always played these glissandi with two hands, like the editors’ notes suggest “for the modern piano.”

Everybody knows the modern grand piano’s action is too heavy when compared to Beethoven’s instrument. A few months after installing the Precision Touch Design I was playing through the Waldstein sonata and nearly fell off the piano stool when I discovered I could play these octave glissandi as written, with just the right hand.

Somehow David Stanwood has discovered a way to transform the modern grand piano into an instrument capable of performing with all the lightness of an early 19th century instrument, without sacrificing any of the depth of tone.

Now that’s genius!

-Garrett Glass, Chicago Illinois
Client of PTD installer David Graham

piano restoration: invention certainly accounts for our busy shop and backlog

cllahan piano serviceLetter from John Callahan

We are Callahan Piano – one of the few “Left Coast” Stanwood connections.

It was great to have a small group of installers gather recently after the CA State PTG convention. All Stanwood folks have an open invitation to come and visit whenever you find yourselves in the Bay Area.

We are a fair sized shop specializing in high-end piano restoration – 95% Steinway and Mason & Hamlin.

We are pleased and proud to have four licensed installers working together under one roof – and complete an average of two PTD’s per month. We are a bit different in that we restore for clients only – we do not buy and sell.

Licensed Installers since 2001, we made the decision some time ago not to do an action job without PTD – and that certainly accounts for our busy shop and backlog.

The more Stanwood actions we do – the more folks want it.

When a potential client can visit the shop and play one, and sometimes two or three pianos, all with the same mind-blowing ease and evenness – the decision to have us do their action becomes easy.

Our success over the past few years has been the result of fairly intense marketing efforts to get local pianists and potential clients into the shop whenever we have a completed instrument.

We have also found it very effective to host “send-off” parties on completion of a major restoration. The client invites friends and colleagues, and we supply wine and cheese, and the piano is the star of the evening. Lot’s of fun. (And the biggest plus – it gets the shop cleaned up!).

Thanks to David for all his work which has benefited so many technicians and pianists!

Best regards to all,

John

John Callahan, Callahan Piano Service

bosendorfer : garrick ohlsson; it repeats beautifully, is really comfortable

garrick ohlsson

Letter written to John Callahan, PTD installer in Oakland CA. March 18, 2003

Dear John,

I’m happy to report how pleased I am with my Stanwood Action work that you recently completed.

It is a really sensational and sensitive action now, with wonderful and accurate control in all dynamic ranges.

It repeats beautifully and is really comfortable. I was also thrilled to receive the action back so promptly, because I was heading into the busiest three months of practicing in the last ten years!

You made a commitment and you delivered.

Thanks for making my dear old Bosendorfer feel like a brand new race car.

With all best wishes,

Garrick