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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.03 > 21Prev  Next

Hammer Suppliers
By John A. Tuttle

At 11:01 3/2/97 -0500, Brian Thornton wrote:

> John,
> Friday, I received 2 sets of hammers from Schaff Piano Co., one for a
> Clarinden Player and one for the Coinola "A" roll piano. I'm really
> disappointed with them. First off they have a lot of fuzz on them,
> like they were finished with a wire brush. On the Coinola I had to
> replace all the shanks & butts so I asked them to drill for the new
> shanks; they didn't, and as a result they are very loose.
> Also I took great pains to get the length of the shanks uniform all
> the way across, and the depth they drilled the hammers varies as much
> as a eighth-inch. (Luckily, I've learned to do a Dry Run, installing
> the hammers w/o glue) Unfortunately, for time reasons, I must clip
> the fuzz off these and use them.
> Thirdly, these guys are going to need lots of voicing. I've never
> really liked Schaff's hammers for that reason. Most of the upright
> hammer replacements I've done for Mr. Brady, and he never opts for
> voicing, as an end result the player pumps up tight but because the
> hammers are so soft in the treble you still have to pump like heck to
> get any volume.
> Personally I like a player that doesn't sound mushy. My 1908 Weber
> needs hammers desperately, but I love its bawdy rich tone and I'm afraid
> I'd lose it. The Coinola I'm restoring belongs to some people in
> Mississippi who inherited the contents of a defunct music/car/railroad
> museum in New Jersey that folded in the early 70s. That's when most of
> it quit working. The stuff has been stored in an unheated airplane
> hanger since then, so its all in the worst possible shape.
> The Coinola's condition is at the bottom of the heap. When I had
> taken out all the pins and strings and began removing the screws in
> the harp plate, the back frame fell completely apart at every glue
> joint. I think they gave me the worst one to see what I can do. They
> have at least a dozen more projects including a Seeburg "G" with the
> torch-light glass.. So I want to make a good impression.
> These hammers ain't gonna do it. I would like to know if you could
> recommend a better source for hammers. Thank-you,
> Brian

Hi Brian,

Darn! That really stinks. However, I have had much worse experience with APSCO hammers. In fact, I keep a picture that clearly shows how they incorrectly bored the angle of the hole on a set for a beautiful Knabe Ampico. I was livid and after trying six hammers and taking the pictures, I sent the pictures and the hammers back. That's when I started using Schaff. BTW, I never paid the bill for the hammers at APSCO and about a year later I got a letter from Ed asking what the problem was. Seems Chad (Scad?) never bothered to tell him about the problem. He apologized but I haven't had a set made by APSCO in over seven years.

If I were really dissatisfied and I could afford to wait, I'd send them right back and tell them to try it again. I've done that once. They apologized profusely and the 'new' set was virtually perfect. One thing that I also do is write a letter explaining all the parameters I want them to use. I measure the bore angles and depth and supply them with those measurements. I also send lots of sample hammers, usually ten or so and I leave a few of them 'connected' to the shank.

Regarding fuzz and hardness, I always shape and voice a new set of hammers. The cutting process leaves the crown concave due to pressure differences from the inside to the outside edges of the hammer. Voicing new hammers is imperative.

I'm going to copy this to the Digest. I think we may find another hammer maker that does a better job every time.

Musically, John

[ Thanks, Brian and John, for sharing these anecdotes. -- Robbie

(Message sent Mon 3 Mar 1997, 13:20:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Hammer, Suppliers

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