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CHARLOTTE, N.C.–Wilson was hanging out with the owner of Adkins Piano Service this morning at Miller Piano Company on FOX News Rising.
Adkins Piano Service tunes pianos throughout the Charlotte area. The owner, Howard ‘Dutch’ Adkins, has tuned pianos for bands like U2, Ben Folds, Amy Grant and the list goes on and on!
Click HERE to learn more about Adkins Piano Service.
Click HERE to learn more about Miller Piano Company.
Stay connected with Wilson via his Twitter account.
Author: Vince Mrykalo
There are times you may just want to recover grand back checks with new buckskin, but other times you will want to replace the back check and wire, because the wire has weakened with age. In those cases, you need to safely remove each old back check and wire with minimal damage to the key, but first be sure to record the old back check height, so you can duplicate the height when installing the new ones. To remove the old ones, pry up on the wire with a pair of wire cutters to raise the back check out of its hole a little at a time (see photo #1).
If the old wire is thinner than the new wire diameter, you will also need to enlarge the hole slightly so as not to split the wood when inserting the new ones. If the holes are angled, just follow the same angle using your drill press. Usually the angle will be 68 degrees. If the holes are perpendicular to the top surface of the key, follow that.
Once all the old checks are removed and the holes done, you are ready to install the new checks. Use your drill press and your back check “remover” tool to press the checks into the holes (see photo2).
Adjust the quill feed of your drill press so the checks will all be inserted at the correct height (photo 3).
After all the new checks are installed, if they are perpendicular, you will need to make the correct angle bends (see picture 4)
using the back check wire bending pliers (see picture 5).
This tool should bend each check back to the correct angle of 68 degrees (see picture 6).
From there you are ready to space the checks to the hammer tails, and then adjust hammer checking.
By Vince Mrykalo, Technical Editor of MPT
Remove action, vacuum out the key bed, tighten all screws, remove stack and keys, vacuum key-frame and blow out the dirt from the stack. Now travel every shank, checking all shanks that you remove to paper, for center pin looseness as well, and re-pin as necessary. Then straighten all leaning hammers by heating the shanks, also known as burning hammers. At this point, don’t worry about re-pinning other hammer flanges yet. Reshape the hammers and vacuum up the felt. Re-assemble and reinsert the action back into the piano.
1. Bed the key-frame
Bring all glide bolts up off the key-bed, and after bedding the back rail and then the front rail: Make sure all glide bolts are seated (not knocking). Do this by lifting up at the let-off rail with your fingers while tapping at each glide bolt stud. Do each glide boltone at a time while lifting near the glide bolt at the let-off rail. You should usemoderate lifting force before you hear a knock (which would be the glide liftingoff the key-bed). Each glide should require the same amount of force before youhear the knock. Start with the second glide from the left and work your way up andthen go back to the first one.
2. Take three key dip measurements
At C1, C4, and C7, write down the measurements. The reason for this is that whenyou have the action on the bench, you can fairly accurately recreate the key-bedprofile which is important for more accurate bench regulation. If the dip is too shallow with the action on the bench, put some cardboard punchings or strips under the glides until the dip is deep enough. Too shallow, and you can add punchings/strips under the front rail or front and back rail, until the desired dip is had.
3. Align hammers to strings
So that the left side of each hammer protrudes only 1/16” past the left most string.Test alignment with una-corda pedal depressed.
4. Regulate let-off
Let-off the hammers as close to the strings as you think is expedient.
Take action to shop (or if doing this in the home, remove action to a table).
- Check all action centers, especially the rest of the hammer flange centers. Usually many are too loose. A quick way to determine looseness is to bring about four hammers up off the cushions at a time and let them drop back to the cushions on their own. (I bring them up to about 70 degrees from level, then let them drop) Compare to those centers that have already been re-pinned. Remove the one(s) that bounced the most and test those for looseness (no more than 6 swings) and re-pin if necessary. Re-pin those that are too tight as well. In Steinways, older ones (pre-teflon) often have centers that are too tight, usually due to varying degrees of verdigris. If it is present, then you must clean all the verdigris out before you can proceed. Also check for verdigris in the jack and wippen flange centers if it is in the hammer flanges.
- You then MUST clean out any funky “lubrication” that is found in the repetition spring grooves in the butterfly-type underneath the repetition (balancier) levers. Otherwise regulating the springs is almost impossible! You can use a little soft pencil lead both to clean out the grooves and re-lubricate them all in one shot. Then polish the spring ends that ride in the grooves and you are almost finished with the preliminaries.
- Treat key bushings with Pianotek concoction (Get some. It really works. Call Pianotek for it). Also treat, if necessary, balance holes for chucking.
- Align wippens to knuckles, and tighten wippen flange screws.
- Two more things before starting your regulation: make sure all the shanks are up off the cushions, and the keys are level. Steinway likes to have a slight crown to the level of the keys, but that is not necessary.
Now, the Regulation
- Let-off (which has already been done).
- Jack-to-knuckle alignment.
- Back checks adjusted to check as high as possible without rubbing hammer tails on the way up.
- Springs strong enough for a sure hammer lift, but not jumpy.
- Jack height in window (check by winking). Jacks should rub slightly on knuckle, but must not hang up on return (don’t flip jack back in order to cause it to return completely; it should return on its own accord).
- Drop. Make it simultaneously happen when let-off happens.
- Blow. Do this step after returning to the piano. Adjust to 45-47mm, and at the same time, so that the shanks are not more than 7/32” off the cushions, or if hammers are worn, go by how high the shanks are off the cushions: they should be no more than 7/32” off.
- Dip/after-touch. This should be done as the last step while at the piano. Adjust dip so that you get desired after-touch.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
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2011 Convention August 2010
Members Area July 2010
Contributors July 2010
News July 2010
The Key to Action Restoration August 2010
By Eric Michael Roberts – Web Master MPT
I just replaced the action brackets on a weber grand from 1990′s. As mentioned before in MPT convention it was discovered that the action brackets were swelling due to a poor alloy mixture during the manufacturing process. and you can not regulate that out of it. By advice from MPT Pres. Jack Hamiliton, I called Young Chang and they confirmed the serial number and sent me brackets free. If you come to a grand piano from young chang or weber from the 90′s with out of wack weird regulation, before you regulate the heck out of the piano, check with mfg to see if the brackets are at fault. The alloy was mixed wrong and it causes swelling over time. This knowledge saved me hours of work and the job paid very well. I took video of my entire process which included relocating screws for the center brackets on the action frame (which took the longest of the steps in the process) I will try to post some video on our blog later.
This piano was checking so bad and the jacks were not lined up at all. In fact, it looked like someone messed up the entire regulation but the customer had no previous action work done and was the only owner. Warping of this kind is such a freak type that many techs can’t even believe it but it is true. This knowledge was discovered and shared at an MPT convention in past years. When you encounter a problem and can not see the solution, you can inquire with MPT members and network to find a quick and solid answer. This is one great reason to be affiliated with MPT, the things you learn and can accomplish are so much greater in a group of such skilled and accomplished technicians.
Once the new brackets were installed, I had to regulate the basics and the piano plays great now. I admit it was a bit scary to me as a young technician to undertake this project for my customer but I have the backing of the greatest techs in the country with the MPT.
Young Chang was very helpful. Sent the brackets and the directions detailed.
Thanks to Jack Hamilton who had the knowledge right away and shared it with me so that I could accomplish this job.
By Vince Mrykalo, Technical Editor
Spring/Summer 2008 MPT Journal
An often overlooked facet of action work is thorough key restoration. Let’s look closely at what makes up thorough key work. If you are confronted with a worn out action, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that at least the keys need to be rebushed, the balance holes are elongated, and the key pins and felt punchings are going to need replacement. Do not overlook these items. Further considerations are back rail cloth, key buttons and the obvious key top replacement. Each of those considerations deserve separate articles, which will be forthcoming. If the balance holes are way far gone, a special repair may need to be done on those. This last consideration also calls for a separate article, also forthcoming.
So this is the scenario we will consider this time: replaced key bushings, steaming the balance holes to get them tight again, and then fitting all those keys back on to the key frame. In this particular instance, polishing, not replacing, the key pins were in order, but we did replace the front rail felt punchings with Crescendo front rail punchings. As an aside, I will not go back to using the old cloth front rail punchings again. Everything gets the Crescendos nowadays.
Let’s review some principles of key bushing replacement:
1) Removal is always made easier with the application of 50% wall paper remover and 50% water. Apply several times, or until the glue releases, then a quick application of steam will completely remove the bushing, any glue residue, and will also close up the balance hole. If the wood seems to be a little weak, a follow-up of glue sizing after steaming will be needed (any water based glue will do, just water it down to the tune of 12 parts water to 1 part glue).
2) Always use hot hide glue when gluing in bushing cloth.
3) Use the correct thickness of bushing cloth, along with the right size of bushing cauls. You want to end up with a well-fit bushed mortise-to-keypin relationship.
4) The depth of cloth is crucial here. Not only should it be a certain depth, but consistent from key to key also. The correct depth is 3/16″, both rails. If they are any deeper, you will have to over ease in order to get the keys to move freely. Any shallower, and you will discover they will wear out faster (see photos 1 & 2).
5) After bushings are glued in and dry, ironing them with a key easing iron (cat # KBI-1A) outfit from PianoTek usually gives just the right amount of easing, plus it smoothes out the fibers for a smoother operating key.
6) Key pins can sometimes merely be polished. Other times they will need to be replaced. If they are plated, be sure the plating hasn’t worn off, otherwise it would be wise to replace. I find that new key pins should be polished on a wheel before insertion into the key frame. Really. It makes a big difference.
Once all these principles have been met, we come to the business of fitting the keys to the key frame. Don’t overlook careful work from this point on. After all, you have been fastidiously following the above principles up to now, and we want to make all this hard work count. We will usually want to ease the balance hole first, so that the key can be put on its respective pin. You may want to slightly modify your balance hole easer tool. First off, the working end should be flattened all the way to the tip of the triangular head, if it isn’t already that way. The angle of the sides should then be made to be more gradual than it originally comes. Sometimes, depending on the tool, it is too round, and will need to be “flattened” more, by grinding material off. Once those things are taken care of, polish it on a buffing wheel, and you are ready to go (see photo 3 of modified tool).
After you have tried putting the key on the balance pin and find that it’s too tight, insert the tool into the hole so that the sides of the hole will be spread by the tool. Don’t overdo this, work patiently. Once the key has been seated to the bottom of the pin (you may have had to ease the bushings a little to get to this point), then test the key’s tightness by lifting the key a scant 1/8″ at the front (see photo 4). You know it has been correctly eased when that key slowly, but definitely falls back to the bottom. But that’s not all. Lifting the key at the rear a scant 1/16″ should produce the similar results, only falling more slowly back to the bottom (see photo 5), since it is usual for the key to be heavier at the front than at the back for most of the keyboard. The danger here is you will have the propensity to over-ease the sides of the balance hole. Once the key slides nicely down the balance pin as you are putting the key on, but when lifting the key at the front (and/or the back), the key stays “up”, you know you are very close to what you want. This is where you want to slightly bevel the balance hole from the inside, using your slightly modified balance hole easer tool. Without putting the tool all the way into the balance hole (from the top), you barely insert it and very carefully begin easing the TOP of the balance hole only, front to back. Over-doing this procedure may cause the recurrence of chucking keys, so do this very gingerly. It’s much easier to show this procedure than to attempt to describe it, but I think you get the idea. If you happen to over ease at this point, then you may have to re-gluesize the hole.
Once this has been done to the whole keyboard, if you can, let it sit overnight, and come back to it on the morrow to touch up any stubborn keys that have decided to become a little too tight again. My friends, this type of work will bring your key work to the next level. This same procedures are used when you are working on a new or nearly new piano. Make those keys operate as they were intended to. Noiseless, firm, and free!
By Vince Mrykalo, Technical Editor
From a recent MPT journal article
This issue I want to talk about is efficiency in your work, whether it is home service or rebuilding in the shop. There are just so many hours in the day, and you cannot thrive very well if too many of those hours are spent laboring. If you are selling your service at the price level you should be at, there is but one way you can better your situation and that is to increase your efficiency.
The conscientious technician will reject as short-sighted, the idea that slighting quality and/or billing the customer for work not actually done will increase income and leisure time. Also, never be deceived into believing that speeding up the job at the expense of quality constitutes efficiency.
True efficiency is achieved when a job is done to definite standards of quality in the least amount of time possible consistent with the amount of energy that you have. Even though you can expend energy at a high rate for short periods of time, normally you expend energy far below the maximum output when you are working for an extended period of time. You have your own energy potential and in achieving efficiency must learn your potential and pace your energy output accordingly.
One of the great robbers of efficiency is wasted motion. It steals both time and energy. Be alert to the motion saving habits, procedures, and sequences that are available to you.
A highly important factor in tuning efficiency is a sensitive tuning lever technique. It is wise to learn to apply the force of moving the tuning pin rapidly yet controlled and as accurately as you possibly can. Lever technique, like the pianist’s touch, is the result of long and intelligent practice. Every time you undershoot or overshoot the mark that you intended to hit when moving the pin, you have wasted time and energy. The essence of expert lever technique seems to be this: project your thinking and sense of touch into the part of the pin that is in the block. This will help you be aware of merely twisting the pin as opposed to turning it in the block, and at the same time being aware of pitch change, and whether the pitch change will stay put or not.
A thorough knowledge of regulating procedure is of prime importance in efficiency. An awareness of what regulating procedure affects what other regulating procedure(s), will dictate what course you will take. Usually a quick go-through of the regulation is in order before you can finely regulate. Getting the shanks off the rail, making sure the repetition springs are strong enough, and making sure drop is present, will get you going. Then getting the jacks lined up correctly under the knuckles, and setting the back checks might be the next thing to complete. You then may want to go over the springs again before regulating jack height. Usually it is best to see what you are facing before you dig in. In regulating, the greatest time saver is thinking, spending some time assessing the situation.
Tools and equipment have much to do with being efficient. Needless to say they should be of high quality. Tools that are seldom used should also be of high quality. You may find your sense of competency increased with high quality tools whether often or seldom used. Learn how to use them. Learn proper grips and how to properly position them.
Concentration is a big factor, maybe the biggest, in achieving efficiency. Ability to concentrate is gained by unrelenting practice. However, in the practice of concentration, will power is not very helpful, and may be even harmful! Approach the task with interest. Work until such time your interest wanes, or your attention wanders to some other matter. Stop at once and forget the job at hand. Once rested, you will again be able to concentrate. The more you follow this routine, the longer you will eventually be able to concentrate. Remember: you can do nothing well when your attention is divided. Always work when you work and rest when you rest. It sounds funny, but the two just don’t mix.
Having striven to be efficient, you may have not saved enough time to do another job, but to be sure, you will have become much less fatigued, have found a little more spare time, and obtained an even more pleasant disposition!