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future of the acoustic piano and Abel (Ron Overs)

----- Original Message -----
From: Overs Pianos <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 1:29 AM
Subject: Re: future of the acoustic piano

> Stephen and list,
> Richard Moody wrote;
> > I am watching a Glen Cambell fund raising telecast. . . .The piano player
> > is playing a digital keyboard. Sounds as good as you can imagine or want.
> I have no doubt that it may well sound convincing on TV, but I have
> to agree with Tony Caught, once you get away from the electronic
> speaker cabinet it's pretty easy to hear that fine but essential
> difference which still remains between a well prepared piano and a
> sampled piano sound.
> Stephen's excellent post on the future of the acoustic piano concluded;
> >. . . . . . I'm not suggesting to return to the past, rather
> >to go forward to the next logical step in the acoustic piano.
> Who knows where the future of piano making lies. Many of us are
> probably to close to call.
> Michael Jorgensen also raises a good point. There's nothing awe
> inspiring about a keyboard with a block of plastic hanging off the
> back edge, especially when compared to a beautifully finished concert
> piano, tastefully lit on a concert platform.
> Glen Grafton wrote of digitals;
> >A model that is quite extraordinary is the new Technics SX-PC25,
> >which sells for under $1700. Tone and action are quite good. . . it
> >and compares it to a decent 6' grand. It would be difficult for most
> >people to tell the difference-it's that good.
> I remain unconvinced (at this point in time at least) re the
> suitability of the digital alternative for concert use. While the use
> of digitals as part of an orchestra may be tolerable in some
> instances - how could anyone take them seriously as a soloist's
> instrument.
> Richard Brekne wrote;
> >Todays piano manufacturers have, well simply lost perspective... they
> >continually explore the possibilities for making instruments more and more
> >explosive in sound.
> This may be true of many manufactures Richard, but there will always
> be a small band of fringe dwellers who remain committed to that crazy
> ideal of building a musical instrument.
> Del Fandrich wrote;
> >If we go the direction you're talking about where would all the
> >modern hammer makers
> >be? They would have to start making piano hammers again and they've
> >forgotten how.
> I obviously cannot speak on behalf of all hammer makers Del, but I
> can say that Norbert and Frank Abel are committed to making piano
> hammers to suit their customers requirements, that is, us the
> technicians and piano makers. In 1996 I was very critical of a couple
> of sets of Abel hammers that I had received. At the (Australian) Gold
> Coast piano technicians convention in '96, Norbert, who had heard on
> the grapevine of my dissatisfaction, approached me to discuss my
> reservations. He said his biggest problem is understanding the
> requirements of each individual customer. We all want something
> different. Some want the hammers very soft so that they can 'juice'
> them up to the required voicing level, while others prefer them just
> a little on the bright side, so that they can voice them down to
> their preferred level with voicing needles. Furthermore, what is the
> ideal voicing level anyhow, everyone has a different opinion,
> primarily I suspect because we all have different levels of hearing
> roll off. While I realize that the question of hammer resilience is a
> much deeper subject than the simplistic description given above,
> Norbert and I had a fruitful discussion regarding our hammer
> requirements. Subsequent to our discussion in '96, Abel has made
> hammer sets for all of our rebuilds and new pianos. To date, we have
> not had a set that was difficult to voice to the levels and
> projection we are seeking.
> While it may be true to say that many hammer makers have lost their
> way, there are few universal truths to be had anywhere. Somewhere out
> there, there will always be someone who is having a go.
> I think perhaps the way forward for present day piano manufacturers
> and the future of the piano, might be to educate the world towards an
> understanding that there is nothing godlike about any particular
> pianos and their makers (thank you Alfred). People with talent crop
> up from everywhere. All of the intellectual and creative piano making
> capacity, contrary to popular belief, is not housed under the roof of
> a single manufacturer. There remain several individual manufacturers
> and freelance technicians committed to our craft.
> Regards to all,
> Ron Overs
> --
> _________________________
> Website:
> Email:

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Future of Acoustic Piano (Tom Sivak)

----- Original Message -----
From: <Tvak@AOL.COM>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 7:51 AM
Subject: Re: future of the acoustic piano

> Having performed on many different keyboards over the years, I can assure you
> that there is no comparison between playing an actual piano and playing the
> keyboard. However, in that situation, where there is an orchestra around
> you, and the sound man needs to get the sound of the "piano" out into the
> house, they really function well; no mic-ing problems, a simple LINE OUT gets
> you into the sound board; no intonation problems with all the temperature and
> humidity variations in the pit; takes up less space. And in the context of
> the orchestra, the sound of the "piano" is just fine.
> Tom Sivak

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Future of Acoustic Piano (Glenn Grafton)

----- Original Message -----
From: Glenn Grafton <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 9:05 AM
Subject: Re: future of the acoustic piano

> May I offer a few observations:
> I don't think anyone would seriously suggest that a digital piano is
> a replacement for a top quality grand piano-myself included.
> However let me add a dose of reality here...realizing that this group
> may not be the most unbiased to accept it - as livelihoods depend on
> the acoustic piano.
> About 2 years ago NAMM reported that the for the first time ever,
> sales of digital pianos out paced the sales of vertical pianos in the
> US (not including grands).
> The low end spinet piano sales have for the most part been replaced
> by digital pianos. People that 20 years ago would have bought an
> Aeolian or Kimball spinet are now buying a digital. I do feel that in
> many cases a new digital piano is a better choice than an older low
> end spinet.
> Take some time to try out several brands of digital pianos. One of
> the most frustrating thing I run into is people who offer their
> opinion on digitals vs. acoustics that haven't even tried one-or the
> one they're basing their opinion on is a 15 year old no name digital.
> If you're going to give an opinion to someone, then take the time
> first to try out several brands so you have a basis. least
> admit that you have some personal opinions but really haven't tried
> any out.
> Digital pianos are getting better. No they're not being used on the
> concert stage-but then again most people don't have 9' concert grands
> in their home either-or even a 5' grand. They are used on major
> recordings, in theatres on Broadway alongside a real orchestra.
> A friend of mine who has a recording studio I think put it most
> succinctly. He has a 6' Yamaha grand and a Yamaha P-150 digital piano
> also purchased from me. He is an excellent pianist and was
> interviewed in Keyboard magazine a few years ago. For recording use
> he uses the digital. It records better than a mic'ed grand does
> (which is also why they are used by touring groups, on Broadway,
> etc.). He prefers the grand for more intricate demanding
> music-although he admits that for 80% of his playing the digital is
> fine. His wife likes playing the grand better and the grand is in
> their living room.
> The ensemble type of digital pianos offer something that a regular
> piano doesn't-in some models such as the Technics SX-PR703 & 903 over
> 1000 sounds, 16 tracks of recording, etc. So they're going beyond
> what a regular piano does.
> In many cases a digital piano is augmenting an existing acoustic
> piano. My friend with the recording studio, my daughters piano
> teacher, our church and many others have a digital piano along with a
> grand piano.
> Does the increasingly better tone and action of digital pianos spell
> the doom for the acoustic piano? I don't think so and I certainly
> don't hope so. I haven't seen a digital piano in a traditional piano
> cabinet selling for less than a comparable acoustic piano. They are
> however changing the face of what is available, allowing access to
> better price/performance and making available sounds and recording
> capabilities that weren't available for pianists 30 years ago. The
> acoustic piano will continue to be the main instrument for piano
> players and the need for capable piano technicians to service them
> will continue.
> --
> Glenn Grafton
> Grafton Piano & Organ Co.
> 1081 County Line Rd.
> Souderton PA 18964
> 800-272-5980
> The box said "Requires Windows 95, or better." So I bought a Macintosh.

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Key Lead Odd Size (Ed Foote)

----- Original Message -----
From: <A440A@AOL.COM>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 10:07 AM
Subject: Re: key leads

> <<The diameter of the hole is 9/16". Supply
> houses that I know provide either a 1/2" or 5/8" lead. Anybody know where I
> can get the mid size. >>
> Greetings,
> I think you will need to swedge a 1/2" lead to fit. I just put them on a
> vise-top and whack them with a hammer, they swell out round and with a little
> practise, you can swedge them so that they are a light press fit.
> Good luck,
> Ed Foote RPT

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Wendy Carlos URL with recording her piano tuner. (Brian Lawson, Don Rose)

----- Original Message -----
From: Brian Lawson <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 10:26 AM
Subject: Re: ET recordings

Try this, somewhere in the middle of the page is a recording of a tuner tuning, I've not listened to it to know of what value it is.

Brian Lawson, RPT
Johannesburg, South Africa



The recording is fairly clean. It is a tuning by Norman Yeend. Download the
.zip file expand it and play it with windows media player. It does not
include setting the first note to a pitch source.

Perhaps some patient soul will write out the temperament sequence.

Quote by Wendy Carlos:

"DigiPerformer 1.6+/ Performer 5.1+ Format or Standard MIDI Format or .ZIP
version of MIDI format file of something rather unusual: all the notes
played during the tuning of Wendy's Steinway by her lifelong master piano
technician, Norman Yeend. "Norman is simply the best piano tuner I've
encountered. He's exact, flexible, and really tries to please. And no one
else's tuning method lasts so long, is so durable as his. I'm lucky to have
found him! Lovely man." (If you ever need one of the sharpest piano
technicians in NYC, you might wish to leave a message on Yeend's biz
number: (212) 795-1902. Recommended.)"

Don Rose, B.Mus., A.M.U.S., A.MUS., R.M.T., R.P.T.

Tuner for the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts

3004 Grant Rd.
S4S 5G7
306-352-3620 or 1-888-29t-uner

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Future of Acoustic Piano (Stephen Birkett)

----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Birkett <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 12:34 PM
Subject: Re: future of the acoustic piano

As far as that real-time simulation of piano dynamics, here's a weekly
reminder of <>.

Stephen Birkett Fortepianos
Authentic Reproductions of 18th and 19th Century Pianos
464 Winchester Drive
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada N2T 1K5
tel: 519-885-2228

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Stuart Piano URL

----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Airy <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 1:00 PM
Subject: Re: future of the acoustic piano
Check this out (a new Australian piano with some new
designs) -- what do you guys think?

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Bluethner URL

----- Original Message -----
From: Newton Hunt <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: Bluthner brackets

Hi Ed,

Look around here.


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Helpinstill Commercial press release and URL

----- Original Message -----
From: Kent Swafford <>
To: pianotech list <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 6:58 PM
Subject: FW: Helpinstill Commercial press release

Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001
11:11:40 EST
Subject: press release

Helpinstill Is Back

After a sixteen-year absence from the market, the Helpinstill Piano Pickup
is once again in production and available from the original manufacturer.

During a 1972 Elton John U. S. tour, his technicians and the Claire Bros.
engineers were introduced to a young Texan who had developed a new magnetic
pickup for pianos. After one trial concert they bought it on the spot. The
resulting immediate success of that first unit led Charles Helpinstill to
found a company that manufactured thousands of pickups and eventually
introduced a line of electrified pianos. The original product became a very
widely used tool of the concert sound industry, and provided the piano sound
heard by audiences who went to see Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Keith Emerson,
Rick Wakeman, and hundreds of other superstar artists. In 1981 Charles
Helpinstill sold the company to pursue his own musical career. Without his
participation, the company eventually shut down production in 1985, at which
point he re-acquired the patent rights and machinery. After a successful
career as Texas piano artist Ezra Charles, he has once again started
production of piano pickups, and the new company is now shipping units.
Current Helpinstill users, including Bruce Hornsby, Lyle Lovett and Ben
Folds Five, will once again have the full service and support of an active

The Helpinstill is a unique, patented system for providing an isolated
signal from the piano by using magnetic pickups to sense the strings. Unlike
microphones, the Helpinstill is virtually immune to feedback and completely
free of bleed-through from nearby sound sources. Sensing the piano tone at
its origination rather than through the soundboard as contact pickups do,
the Helpinstill possesses a presence and brilliance that makes it easy to
mix in the most demanding ensemble micing. It attaches in minutes to the
piano, and features controls that allow adjustment of the volume of every
note on the keyboard. The sound quality and realism of its tone surprised
the very first listeners on that 1972 Elton John tour, and continues to
amaze engineers today.

Prior to re-introducing the Helpinstill system, Charles Helpinstill has
refined and simplified the original to produce the new Model 120 Helpinstill
Piano Sensor. This new model contains all the features which made the
original unique, but with simplified controls. Direct internet marketing
which eliminates dealers, distributors and mark-ups allows the company to
offer this new unit at the original 1980 price: $550. A website for the new
company has been established at that provides complete
information for purchasing units direct from the manufacturer. Helpinstill
is located at 4818 Glenmont, Bellaire TX 77401, telephone 713/432-1089.

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Vertegris and Ether (David Ireland)

{ED NOTE. If Naphtha doesn't work try this......

----- Original Message -----
From: David Ireland <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 6:20 PM
Subject: Re: Vertegris

I have successfully treated very stubborn verdigris by unpinning the effected
flanges and washing the bushings in ether.

I did this as an experiment on a piano which had been treated with every
known chemical, and had been re pinned--twice. These treatments failed within

The ether treatment has lasted two years with no sign of further trouble. If
you try it, be careful. Ether is explosive and it will kill you if you inhale very much.
 I used it outdoors. It is so explosive, I wouldn't even use it in fume hood unless I
knew the switch and blower were sealed.

I didn't use the automobile starting fluid. It has many things other than
ether in it. I ordered ether from a pharmacy. It cost $15/quart and it required a quart
to do the job. I put it in a coffee can with a lid and soaked the parts. When I was
done, I gave them another soak in acetone to remove any traces of wax. This treatment removed all of the WD40 and God knows what else from the wood and left it looking new.

A set of hammer flanges took me 3 hours to unpin, clean and re pin. I
consider this a good repair and am checking on it annually to see if further trouble
arises. I doubt it will since the bushings are now completely free of contamination and are completely dry--devoid of all chemicals.

Dave Ireland, RPT

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PowerRoll URL, QRS URL Player Piano Unit (Jon P age)

----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Page <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 6:22 AM
Subject: Player Piano Unit (was:Re: future of the acoustic piano)

There is another product you could have considered had not the player unit
been removed is the PowerRoll.

This is made by Larry Broadmore and has electronic valves which interface
with a pneumatic player system. It can either be temporarily mounted on the
tracker bar or installed in-line between the tracker bar and player valves.
way midi files operate your pneumatic player.

When I get around to rebuilding an Ampico upright in the corner of the shop,
this will be added in-line.

QRS has Pianomation which someone on the MMD has mentioned retrofitting
into an a former player with better playing results than the under-the-key
An amusing ditty is to be found here:

Jon Page

At 11:00 PM 03/08/2001 -0800, you wrote:
>One thing I forgot to mention is that I like the idea
>of fitting acoustic pianos with electronic/digital
>piano components. You get the new technology AND keep
>the "real" piano. I could see that it might be
>expensive. When I restore my Ricca & Son player piano
>(player was taken out before I was born), I would like
>to put an electronic player in it (forget off the top
>of my head which brands I would consider, but it would
>be like in the Yamahas, or I THINK Wurlitzer/Baldwin
>had a player system.) and parts from an electronic
>keyboard, like a Yamaha PSR-9000. Not to mention a PC
>in the bottom, with a flat-panel display where the old
>roll player part went. (I would not be using a roll
>player system. It would be CD-RW probably or whatever
>is in the modern player systems.

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Piano Moving, Shipping (Ron Overs)

----- Original Message -----
From: Overs Pianos <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 6:33 PM
Subject: Re: Shipping piano

David and list,

David wrote;

>I will be shipping a Steinway M across country in the next week or
>so. I am considering locking the action as most manufacturers do
>with a strip of wood across the shanks tied to the action brackets.
>Anything else I should be thinking of?

In addition to tieing the hammer shanks to the rail, it is good
practice to pad the case parts to prevent surface finish damage. We
repair many grand pianos each year which have been damaged in
transit, when much of it could have been avoided with adequate

* If you will be leaving the lid on, place check felt strips adjacent
to the lid buffers (select a felt thickness which is just taller that
the lid buffers). If you don't, and the piano is tied down with
considerable force, the lid buffers may scuff the rim and the buffers
may be also be deformed. Don't forget to felt adjacent to the lock
rail buffers also. Furthermore, if you are planning to leave the lid
on, instruct the carrying company on the necessity of placing some
spacer material under the rim if it is to be tied on its edge in the
truck, to avoid damaging the top lid. While a many carrying companies
will assure you that they know what they doing, when it comes to
grand pianos, many haven't got a clue.

* If the piano will be shipped with the lid off, remove the hinges
from the rim to avoid repairing them later.

* The lid prop is prone to bouncing around. Tie it to the plate strut
with a cotton sash.

* The music rest is prone to swinging up and scuffing the finish
under the top lid. Attach a felt strip across the top-center edge of
the music rest.

*The fall board should be taped closed (with a small felt strip
between it and the key slip at each end - name board felt will do).
Alternatively, small felt pieces, sized to afford a moderate
interference fit between the ends of the fall and the cheeks, could
be placed at the ends of the fall as it is closed, to hold it firmly

* As a final measure to prevent possible damage to the lid lock,
should the main body of the lid swing open while the piano is on the
moving trolly, tie the larger section of the lid to the rim with a
woven cotton sash around the body of the piano.

Hope this helps,

Ron O




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Squirrel in Piano URL humor

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 4:54 PM
Subject: This time, music failed to soothe the savage beast

This message was sent to you by Richard Raskob RPT using the E-Mail To A Friend feature on The Miami Herald
A message from Richard Raskob RPT:

My brother sent me this link, Thought all of you might enjoy it also.

Posted at 5 p.m. EST Thursday, March 8, 2001

This time, music failed to soothe the savage beast

It is a chilling question that we have all asked ourselves: What would we do if, God forbid, we had to get a squirrel out of a piano? This very question confronted an animal-control officer in Fairfax County, Va., recently, according to a news report from the Dec. 21 issue of The Washington Post sent in by roughly two million alert readers. According to this report, the officer was responding to a report of ``a squirrel running inside a residence.'' When the officer arrived, the squirrel ``jumped into an open baby grand piano.''

The full article will be available on the Web for a limited time:

(c) 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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