On my last article, “Does it Matter if my Steinway is Restored with Genuine Steinway Parts?” I discussed that one doesn’t have to use “genuine” Steinway parts to make a Steinway a great piano, but that one must use parts that are most suitable to the piano, to their audience, as well as to the taste, feel and desires of individual artists that will be using the piano.  In this article, I will discuss the contentious issue of the hammer felts.

One of the interesting issues is that from my understanding and research, I have found that the hammer felts from the Hamburg Steinway factory are harder to begin with, and then made softer through various types of voicing techniques using needles and sandpaper whereas the New York factory starts with a softer felt and then made harder by painting a lacquer-like substance on them to make them harder.  This substance seems to make them stronger and makes the sound produced louder and brighter.  So again, we are faced with the same question as in the last article—which hammer felt is better?  According to musicians throughout the world, the preference is of personal taste and style, not of absolutes.

What about other brands of hammers that are chosen by the most highly respected piano rebuilders and concert artists today, like Renner?  Even Steinway Germany used (until this year, I believe) hammers made especially for them by Renner in their pianos.  Is it a reasonable assumption that only the New York Steinway & Sons, Inc. can have a corner on this market?  Especially when the two Steinway factories don’t do things in the same way?  Well, according to the Ronsen Piano Hammer Co., they produce the felt that was used on all Steinway pianos for the 90 years prior to World War II –and from what I see, they claim that their hammers are as good as any Steinway hammer produced by Steinway Germany or Steinway New York today.  Their thoughts about hammer felts, interestingly, is the same as mine—they strongly recommend hammer sampling to determine what hammer is best for your piano because larger pianos have heavier string scales and larger soundboards  and require larger and denser pianos.    At American-Steinway.com, the technicians and craftsman that work with us know the New York Steinway, the German Steinway–its sounds, its timbre, power and color-tonal variations, and can help you choose which hammer will work best for your restoration.  Visit us at www.american-steinway.com –where we we not only trade, buy and sell pre-owned Steinway Grand Pianos every day, but we restore pianos–not giving you hype, but information that will help you choose what is best for you and your Steinway piano.

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