As adults, we don’t think all that much about the fall board on our pianos other than to cover the keys when we’re not playing and, if we’re honest about it, most of us only close it to keep the cat from playing raucously at 4 in the morning.
As adults with children, we know that at some point there will be more than one child at the piano and that they will argue over who gets to play or what they will play together. The argument will escalate to the point where one of them shuts the piano on the other. Many older pianos would have allowed that argument to end in the emergency room with a smashed hand and splinted fingers.
The soft close on this Hailun piano means you get to correct their argument without a medical emergency.
Just about every piano can play mezzo forte or mf. It’s not all that difficult to get a piano to sound as loud as the resonant body will allow. It’s all in the power you can put behind the articulation. The challenge with a piano is creating a soft, intimate sound.
Particularly with vertical style pianos, we must create enough space for the hammer to fall away from the strings. This is the point of “let-off.” If the hammer doesn’t let-off then it blocks against the string producing only the sound of impact. The inverse problem of let-off is if the hammer falls away too early so that it must traverse the distance by the force of momentum- this forces the musician to put more force into the note just to guarantee the note is heard which results in louder playing. The ideal position for let-off to occur is as close to the strings as possible allowing for seasonal changes in humidity, humidity which can warp the wooden rails ever so slightly but more than enough to change let-off.
One of my customers has an instrument where either the quality of the wood or the grain alignment is so incredibly responsive to humidity change that I have to adjust let-off regularly throughout the year so that they are able to make music. In one season there’s far too much left to inertia that it only plays loudly, so it gets adjusted, the next season he finds the hammers creating that percussive blocking sound.
There is another option of course, don’t use wood! I service many pianos where the wooden rail has been replaced with aluminum. Problem solved? Nearly. the let-off buttons are threaded like a screw, also made of metal. Metal isn’t susceptible to humidity changes but it is susceptible to temperature change. In the Southeastern Pennsylvania Summer we are very fond of air-conditioning which shrinks the screw and the aluminum rail. The holes don’t shrink, they expand because the metal shrinks away which under extreme situation can generate a clicking sound but mostly just allows the regulating screws to change position.
The most reliable way to maintain let-off at the closest point possible is to marry the two materials- quality wood rail fit perfectly inside an aluminum U-channel. The aluminum prevents the wood from warping during humidity change and the wood holds the regulation screws nicely through temperature change.
This allows for very stable regulating, liberating your piano technician to comfortably place let-off much closer to the strings. What this means for the performer is that you can always be sure that your most delicate repertoire will sing in the whisper it deserves.
Piano technicians are often asked “What’s the middle pedal for?” especially as it relates to an upright piano.
Many older upright pianos used the middle pedal as a bass sustain pedal. In some of the cheapest manufacturers it was only there for decoration as it was directly attached to the same mechanism the sustain pedal toggled. A few modern makes have managed to create a true “Sostenuto” like what it common on quality grand pianos, the Hailun HU-7 is one of those instruments, but mostly it is used as a practice pedal.
When you depress the pedal it is often possible to push it to the left so that it is always engaged for the duration of your practice. You’ll notice the sound isn’t nearly as bright or as loud.
As my piano service matures, I find myself thinking more and more that many pianos need new hammers rather than just reshaping. The older felt is simply too hard and dense to work with anymore, it’s impossible to create a warm, welcoming sound in the music. There’s a few reasons for this:
Constantly striking the strings in the same location has compacted the felt
The closer to the hammer core, the more compressed the felt is to begin with
As wool ages it shrinks, becomes hard and brittle
Sometimes the glue adhering the hammer felt to the molding comes undone.
When you can’t achieve the sound you want, playing the piano becomes a self defeating endeavor. I don’t want to over prescribe this maintenance so I went searching for validation and below is an answer I found on a public message board validating my position.
Like everything else the hammer felts wear out. each time the hammer strikes the string it gets slightly compacted and wears grooves into the hammer felt. As the felts gets harder as a result of this the tone of the piano usually becomes harsher and more metalic. It’s a very gradual process so you won’t notice from one day (or even several months). For a concert grand I’d expect to replace or reshape the hammers about every 5 years. for someone’s home piano usually about every 15-20 years.
A brush is the wrong tool for removing the grooves, instead you use fine sandpaper to take off one layer of felt at a time, while maintaining the shape of the hammer. Talk to your piano tech about what you want out of the repair and he’ll be able to help you out. Be aware that if this is 100+ year old piano the cost of a repair may end up being more than the cost of a nicer piano. (based on that kind of maintenance history there are probably also several other issues that should be addressed) Also Piano hammers don’t necessarily have to be replaced. You can usually reshape the hammers at least once, sometimes 2-3 times, It all depends on the condition of the felt. This removes the compacted and worn our part of the felt that has the grooves. It’s really impossible to give advice without actually being able to inspect it.
Help your child learn piano by allowing them to practice and play on a quality instrument! $500 gets your piano delivered with in home set-up for a 6-months rental.
Students who practice on a good quality, well performing acoustic piano are much more likely to practice, excel, and develop proper performing techniques.
Challenging music is more within reach.
Hours of hard work are better rewarded.
Musicians can hone their personal sound and character.
All rental payments are credited towards the purchase price of the piano and can be credited towards an upgrade.
Hailun Dream Assurance
15 Year Warranty (best in the industry)
Better Features than most Asian and European Pianos at a lower price point.
Best Rated Asian Piano by American Technicians across the country
Maintained by the best technicians in the area
Rental payments will be credited toward the purchase if you decide to own the piano or trade up to another instrument! For example; you pay 24 months of rent at $100, $2,400 goes towards the purchase of the instrument. Below is a view at the payment calculator. The rentals are based on a 60 month payoff so you can easily transition to purchase.