When my Baldwin Hamilton 1929 grand underwent exploratory surgery in the capable hands of Mark Schecter, RPT, I had some pointed questions.
Given that the piano had a glassy-sounding upper treble due to worn down hammers, would installing a partial set of new ones be a reasonable route to take?
Mark didn’t think so, and explained.
My guess was that the weight of the hammers could be a variable, making one part of the piano feel qualitatively different than another.
More about hammers on video:
And a valuable Piano World Forum post from Keith Aikens, RPT conformed with Mark’s opinion:
“It is important to realize that there isn’t any “partial set of hammers” readily available on the market. Here’s why:
“Hammers are made as one long piece of felt pressed around one long moulding. Then the completed pressing is cut into individual hammer heads. (We just call them hammers).
“The costs to make a partial set will be close to the costs to make a full set of hammers. So there is no economic incentive to a hammer maker to make a partial set — even if there were a sufficient demand. And, if a full set is broken up and sold, who will buy the remainder? The costs are still the same = 1 full set.
“That’s the story from the hammer maker’s side. From the side of the piano/pianist/technician, it’s really quite simple. The piano as an instrument is an organic whole and when parts are worn, it’s best to replace them in sets, rather than trying to set a standard of “how worn is still acceptable” and then measuring them to determine pass/fail according to whatever (necessarily arbitrary) criteria are established.
“So, even though the treble hammers may be worn down to the wood and the bass ones aren’t, the bass are still worn and merit replacement. But, beyond that, the new hammers simply won’t match the old ones. It’s like having heavy, lugged snow/mud tires on one side of your car and racing tires on the other side. It won’t be a pleasant driving experience.”
The Back Story: