Zorba's "Secret" Piano Page
17 May 2008
Hard as rocks hammers. Voicing tool wouldn't penetrate!
Slightly softer now - see text.
DANGER WILL ROBINSON! The technique pictured here is VERY hazardous to your piano's health and should NOT be attempted unless you accept the possibility that you may DESTROY YOUR HAMMERS! This technique is controversial even among professional piano technicians - which I am NOT one! As always, work on your own piano at your own risk!
With my heart in my throat, I used my glue pot as a steamer and steam voiced my hammers as I was getting absolutely nowhere trying to needle them. Even with just one needle in the voicing tool I couldn't get any appreciable penetration, even with considerable force.
Although quite hazardous, I felt the risk was worth it. I boiled water in my converted "Hot Pot Express" (AKA my glue pot) and steamed each hammer in turn. Every thing I've read on steam voicing says to do each hammer VERY briefly, like about a second. So I did so: held up the pot, and bobbed each hammer down for approximately 1 second. Hmmm... The hammers look the same, what good is 1 second doing?
The result? First, a SIGNIFICANT improvement in tone quality across the entire scale. My sources regarding keeping the steaming very short were ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Secondly, I can now needle to a "decent" depth. The first three notes above the break are still strident - I did a small amount of needling on those three to try to tone them down a bit more - with some, but limited, success.
As it stands right now, I'm quite happy with the results (the three notes above the break notwithstanding). I don't know how long this will last - all voicing by its very nature is transient, but I wouldn't mind it if I had to do this once every 6 months or a year. My tuner will be coming in about 6 weeks (I need to make an appointment!), I think I'm going to have him work on those three notes and talk to me about what I've done so far (and we'll see how the voicing has held up at that point.). I'm going to resist the temptation to try steaming those 3 hammers a second time.