Stanwood Piano Touch Weight Metrology™ [sc_embed_player volume=”50″ preload= “true” autoplay=true loops=”true” fileurl=”http://masterpianotuner.com/audio/_metrology.mp3″]
I was fortunate as a young man to be accepted into the North Bennet Street School (NBSS) Boston MA, Piano Technology Program by Bill Garlick the Piano Technology Program Director (department head) then at North Bennet. As all the good gifts we enjoy in this life I spent the following seemingly brief semesters among many talented young piano technology students at the North Bennet Street School which also included a then young David Stanwood, friend, colleague, and classmate that same year at North Bennet, technology program for piano. Stanwood is now also a long time North Bennet Street School Alumni.
Mr Stanwood, over many years, has placed a great deal of time and effort into his craft career and love for pianos.
This is about Stanwood Inovation Inc, Piano Touch Weight Metrology, a wonderful video presentation.
Mr Stanwood starts out by saying
My name is David Stanwood, President of Stanwood Piano Innovations.
Our shop is on Martha’s Vineyard, in the town of West Tisbury.
I’ve always had a passion for pianos, always loved pianos.
David Stanwood’s passion for pianos lead him to question why even on some of the worlds best instruments the feel of the keyboard was sometimes inconsistent from note to note.
While training to be a piano technician at Boston’s North Bennet Street School Mr. Stanwood asked what could be done to improve pianos who’s actions didn’t feel right.
And the answer was, well-a – that’s not that easy.
So there really wasn’t an answer. That drove me to experiment and discover.
The science of weights and measures is called Metrology.
Mr Stanwood’s quest lead him to develop a fundamental system and methodology for balancing piano action, something he called “the new touch weight Metrology.”
What was missing in pianos, was a metrology which explains the balance of piano actions in a whole way.
Unlike a violinist who can carry his or her whole instrument on tour, the concert pianist must travel from hall to hall, playing on a variety of instruments, often with inconsistent playing action.
The equality of the mechanism of the piano can either act to support the pianist or it can act as a barrier to their art, and my quest has been to discover now what is the mystery in that mechanic of that keyboard what happens between the musical thought and the finger where it touches the key and the sound that comes out.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in this mechanism and that really shouldn’t be an issue for the pianist, they should have a thought and should be able to think it and express it in sound.
The piano keyboard is a system of stepped weights. The hammers at the bass end are larger and heavier than the hammers at the treble end. The pianist expects the keys to feel consistent along the length of the keyboard much as we expect each of the steps in a stair case to be of the same depth and height.
Now a Pianist has the task not only to walk up and down the staircase but they have to dance up and down their stair case and do it artistically and do all these fancy things.
The action for each of a pianos 88 keys acts in a series of movements much like a catapult, where the press of a key begins a rapid series of increasingly magnified movements through the key stick, the repetition or whippen, and the shank eventually catapulting the felt tipped hammer into the string. Engineers refer to this set of connected mechanisms as a folded beam.
Now here we have the analogy of the piano action which pivots, the main pivot is on the balance of the key, the finger goes down a little bit and the hammer goes up a lot. We have the same analogy the same pivot point, this goes down a little and that goes up a lot.
Using one gram blocks to illustrate the balance beam analogy Mr Stanwood first weighs the hammer and shank mechanism a measurement called the strike weight.
..and ten grams out on the end, this would be the measurement of the weight of the hammer, and the way we would measure this in the piano would be taking the part off and actually tipping it and there we have ten point two grams(10.2).
The process of weighing each component of each of the 88 key mechanisms continues with the whippen also known as the repetition.
It is followed by the key stick which is weighed by balancing it at it’s pivot point. This measurement is called the front weight.
We’ve measured the strike weight and that’s the weight out here – o k. We’ve measured the whippen radius weight. We’ve measured how far it is by measuring the ratio, playing the ten gram weight and seeing how it translates. We’ve measured the front weight by tipping the key on the scale, that would be this weight, o k. We’ve measured the balance weight by measuring up weight and down weight and averaging it by mid-point, that would be this weight.
We have an equation here that has one two three four five six variables. We’ve measured everything except one and thats how far out and thats the ratio.
Mr Stanwood’s equation of balance is written as
balance weight + front weight = whippin weight x the key ratio + the strike weight x the strike ratio.
For the key mechanism measured here the formula would be
38 grams + 27.1 grams = 18 grams x .5 + 10.2 grams x 5.5
The primary use of the equation of balance is to fine tune and perfect the front weight, the variable that makes the key invisible to the player.
All of the data collected in the weighing of each of the 88 keys is then entered into the computer. The data is then analyzed to determine whether individual components should be made lighter by trimming or made heavier
by having weights strategically placed to achieve balance.
Now we’re gonna look at the Jordan Hall Piano, (at the computer) This is a Hamburg Steinway D
It’s a Jordan Hall, and this is the weight of the strike weight as from the factory (looking at the computer) and you can see that there’s a big bump, it gets very low here,
This is the ratio that we calculated using the equation of balance.
The next major component is the lead weight, that’s what you have to throw when you play the key and that can be measured by measuring the front weight where you tipped the key on the scale, erst the measurement of the front weight.
We added what’s called a whippen support spring so we use a combination of the lead weight and the spring and you can see that the effect is that we can use much less lead. So now we have a keyboard where the inertial weights (the stepped weights) are very uniform from step to step, no surprises.
The ultimate goal in the piano action is to really make the mechanism disappear, and have the hammers in your fingers – I mean that would be the ultimate goal, just not even think about the fact that there’s five thousand parts in between you and your performance.
You can just feel like you are right to it.
Connected to the hammer, that’s what we’re after here.
For more information
I remember on special Steinway events here in the Northern Virginia area the now soon to be raised Jordan Kitt’s Steinway dealer on Gallows Rd between Merrifield and Tyson’s corner would have Henry Steinway available to sign the soundboard of your Steinway after a selection and purchase.
Often I would attend the Jordan Kitt’s Steinway event just because Henry Steinway would be there. Henry in the room was enough for me and although I had the pleasure to meet him once, I really wanted to just be there and observe other piano lovers interacting with Henry Steinway as he entertained any questions they may have had. So now this is a rather fond memory of Henry Steinway at Jordan Kitt’s Music in Vienna Virginia, my home these many years.
My Favorite link that includes mention of Henry Steinway & Franz Mohr, both just recently visited the new Jordan Kitt’s Music showroom, for the kick off, (and signed my Steinway anniversary tuning lever), plus mention of Bill Garlick my tuning instructor and the former Director of the piano technology program at North Bennett Street School In Boston is http://yost.com/art/Steinway
Also recently a wonderful article about Henry Steinway’s 91st Birthday from MMR Music Merchandise Review that introduces the Henry Z. Steinway Limited Edition piano.
The Z piano is being produced in a series of 91 handcrafted instruments, available in two sizes, each signed by Henry Steinway, great-grandson of Steinway founder Henry Engelhard Steinway.
Featuring late 19th century colonial design elements, the piano has a hand-carved music desk adorned with scroll work and its namesake’s initials. Atop each leg is a hand-carved floral medallion, while the legs are carved with straight barrel-fluted pillars that match the lyre pedals and bench.
On the inner rim, each piano bears a brass medallion honoring the four generations of the Steinway family members who led the company: Henry E., William, Theodore, and Henry Z. The medallion also displays the limited-edition series number of the instrument.
The Henry Z. Steinway Limited Edition piano is available as a 5’10” Model O and 6’10” Model B. It is offered in ebony and East Indian rosewood finishes. Prices range from $71,000 to $125,400.
In 1955, Henry Steinway became the last family member to lead the company and did so as president for 22 years.
The New York Times Link is most expansive.
Henry Z. Steinway, the last Steinway to run the piano-making company his family started in 1853, died Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by a daughter, Susan Steinway.
Mr. Steinway once said that he had taken countless piano lessons but never knew “which is Beethoven’s this or Beethoven’s that.” He remained proficient on a typewriter’s keys, however; long after the world had adopted personal computers, he was still pounding away on his Smith-Corona manual.
Henry Ziegler Steinway — named for an uncle, and not to be confused with a cousin, Henry Steinway Ziegler — was the great-grandson of Heinrich Engelhard Steinway, the illiterate German immigrant before the ampersand in Steinway & Sons. Henry was born on Aug. 23, 1915, in his parents’ apartment on Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets.
The location was important to his tradition-minded father, Theodore E. Steinway. The Steinways’ factory, the largest piano plant in New York City when it opened, had occupied that site from just before the Civil War until about 1910. Theodore rented an apartment in the building that took the factory’s place. (The apartment house was demolished in the 1950s to make way for Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.)
By the time Henry was a boy, the name Steinway had become almost synonymous with pianos, famous on concert stages as well as in Tin Pan Alley. Irving Berlin paid homage in “I Love a Piano” with the lyric “I know a fine way to treat a Steinway.”
After shuttering its Manhattan factory, Steinway & Sons moved its manufacturing operations to Queens, and as a child Henry wandered through a labyrinth of sawdust-strewn workrooms. He joined the company after graduating from Harvard in 1937 and began his career by building pianos, just as his father and uncles had.
“I learned a respect for work that is actually done,” Mr. Steinway said years later.
He also discovered that making instruments that have thousands of tiny parts under the lid is not easy. He said it took him a day and a half to do what the workers at the factory did in four hours.
In the 1940s, following the death of a cousin who had been the company’s general manager, Mr. Steinway began overseeing operations at the company’s three factories in Queens. Poor eyesight kept him away from the front lines during World War II; the Army stationed him on Governors Island in New York Harbor.
He became the factory manager after the war and president of the company in 1955, when his father made a surprise announcement that he was stepping down, immediately.
By then the piano business was struggling against changing technologies and tastes. Phonographs and radios had displaced pianos as home entertainment choices, and television was on the rise. As Mr. Steinway recalled in 2003: “People would say: ‘You’re in the piano business? That doesn’t exist anymore.’ ”
So he downsized the company — though he preferred the term “right-sized” — closing two of the plants in Queens. He decided that concert artists to whom the company had lent pianos would have to return them, unless they bought them.
He also arranged to sell Steinway Hall, the company’s building on West 57th Street, to Manhattan Life Insurance Company. He moved most of the company’s offices, including his own, to Queens. But the showroom, with its big front window and arched ceilings, remained.
In 1972 he sold the company itself. “It was the hippie time,” he recalled in 2003. “Nobody in the next generation —”
He left the rest of the sentence unsaid. He said he did not believe that any of his younger relatives could take over, so he proposed a $20.1 million stock swap with the CBS Corporation. The deliberations split the family, with his mother, Ruth, calling the sale “a betrayal,” although she ultimately voted for it.
CBS replaced him as president in 1977, naming him chairman. He gave up that title when he retired at 65, but he never really left. Until a few months ago, he went to Steinway Hall most days. He also went to the factory to autograph just-finished pianos, signing the cast-iron plates with felt-tip pens. At times he served as a goodwill ambassador, visiting piano dealers and attending music-industry conventions.
Last year President Bush presented him with the National Medal of Arts, the government’s highest award in the arts. Mr. Steinway was also the founding president of the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, Calif.
In addition to his daughter Susan, of Cambridge, Mass., he is survived by his wife, Polly; another daughter, Kate, of West Hartford, Conn.; three sons, William, of Chapel Hill, N.C., Daniel, of Rutland, Vt., and Henry E., of Los Angeles; and seven grandchildren.
CBS sold Steinway in 1985, and the company changed hands again in 1995. Mr. Steinway recalled worrying about that sale, to what was then Selmer Industries, a band-instrument manufacturer that had been taken over by two investment bankers from Los Angeles.
“I thought, ‘Here we go up the flue for sure,’ ” Mr. Steinway said in 2003. “ ‘Two hotshots who’re not yet 40. This is where we get liquidated for sure.’ ”
But the two investment bankers, Dana D. Messina and Kyle R. Kirkland, changed Selmer Industries’ name to Steinway Musical Instruments. Mr. Steinway liked to recall that when they took the company public in 1998, they used Ludwig van Beethoven’s initials for a stock symbol— LVB — because all possible combinations of S’s and T’s were taken.
I know in my heart this is truely the end of an era.
Henry Z Steinway[youtube width=”500″ height=”418″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_E99AQhBM8[/youtube]
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