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What Technicians are Saying

Mark Cramer

From: Mark Cramer
Date: December 4, 2006 2:40:52 PM CST
To: CAUT  

Subject: CAUT Wapin Seminar Report

Hello all...

You may recall my skepticism about Wapin. After reading the amazing claims on the Wapin website, I e-mailed Tim Geinert and asked "are you willing to prove it!?"
 
Even when he generously offered to travel here and answer my challenge, the doubts remained... "is the piano going to sound weird, will we need scientific equipment to tell, or are we all just going to agree to "imagine" what we hear.(!?)"
 
Fortunately the results were NOT subtle. The improvement I personally witnessed in this piano was profound, more to the order of a transformation.
 
Every pianist, even those who had been quite vocal about their dislike for this "plinky" instrument noticed it right away, without prompting... "it lingers, what did you do to open the sound?..."Some were arrested within a few bars, and one at the very first chord!
 
And as musicians do, they all seemed to conveniently forget about the bad regulation, wobbly keys and uneven voicing they had pointed out beforehand, and zero in on something else, in fact the only "something else" that had actually changed. By their own words, this "ugly " instrument went from unplayable" to "vibrant," and from "completely un-interesting" to wonderful," albeit within 24 hours!
 
For us technicians however, trying to describe any improvement using the tired old adjectives "warmer, richer, stronger, faster, etc." gets real lame in a hurry. So I'll put it this way; when I install new hammers, or deep-needle the shoulders, or carefully fit them to the strings, I have a certain aural expectation in mind. Sometimes I'm pleased, sometimes disappointed.
 
By comparison, the effect Wapin displayed on this instrument would be greater than my expectation of any of the three routines described above, and at least equal to the combination of all three put together, in their perceived ability to enhance a piano's sound. I hope this paints a helpful picture.
 
My humble recommendation... try this Wapin thing out for yourself. Make your own conclusions.
 
Retro-fitting is less work than a typical bridge-repinning, and I think they even have a "how to" DVD. I'm sure the results will make this little adventure more than worth your while.
 
As for the skeptic, well I've just ordered a Wapin license for the 1923 Mason intend to for the 1885 Steinway A, and possibly the 1912 B... (I might occasionally be cheap, but I ain't stupid. ; )

Finally, I have to express an overwhelming debt of gratitude to Tim Geinert. Not just for the generosity of his time, and so capably sharing a valuable skill, but for taking a disappointing piano within my care, and transforming it to a musical level I had otherwise been unable to achieve.
 
Thanks Tim!
 
best regards,
Mark Cramer,
Brandon University

Gabriel Granitz

Yamaha Certified Piano Technician

I had never heard of the Wapin Bridge System until it was introduced to my by Tim Geinert, RPT. At the time I was attending the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, pursuing a piano performance degree. The Wapin Bridge System was installed on a Steinway “L” in my piano instructor’s office, which, needless to say, was the instrument I became well accustomed to through years of lessons. Before a complete regulation and the installation of the Wapin Bridge the piano was extremely difficult to control for phrasing and, furthermore, the sound was very flat; very few partials could be identified on any given note.

After Tim had completed the installation of the Wapin Bridge, a complete regulation, and a fine tuning I was fortunate enough to be the first person to play the instrument. I was utterly shocked and speechless after the first chord, since the partials were nearly visible! It was as if you could pick them out of the air and identify each and every one of them. I had never heard a piano sound so clear in all of my years of tuning. Not only was the sound clear and pristine, the sustain of any given note seemed endless! With such outstanding results on this piano my lessons were much more productive since the sonorities needed for my concert pieces very literally at my fingertips with minimal effort. I am surprised that piano manufacturers have not utilized this system on their products, given the outstanding results with this resurrected Steinway “L”.

Andrew Remillard

My name is Andrew Remillard. I am one of the technicians at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. I also have a full line rebuilding shop and piano store in Downers Grove, IL. I have installed 3 Wapin bridges to date. All were in pianos which could really have used new boards but the budget wasn't there for that kind of work. I have always been pleased with the results. But when you do that much work, (block, Wapin, hammers, board repaired, etc.) you never really know which step made what improvement. Until now.

Tim Coates and Tim Geinert came to DeKalb to film the installation of a Wapin bridge on a circa mid 1960's S&S D. This piano had been in the recital hall until it was moved out when the music school purchased a new D. The piano has been rebuilt at one time about 10 years and the pin block is getting soft now. We got a new keyboard this year because the old set of keys would break if you held them by one end. The piano also has a Stanwood TD. The tone was very poor, closer to what you would expect from a worn out piano about 2/3's the size, yet the soundboard appeared to be in good condition.

The Tims came to DeKalb Aug 1 & 2 and installed a wapin. The results were absolutely amazing. The tone bloomed and the sustain increased maybe 2 fold. The tonal responsiveness allowed for chord voicing and inner voice projection where before the piano just didn't have the clarity to do this. But now that everybody at NIU has seen the value in the Wapin, we will be installing it on all the pianos I restring or rebuild now.

Andrew Remillard
ANR Piano Service
ANRPiano.com
The Weekend Piano Shoppe
630-852-5058

Karl Feuss

I would recommend Wapin for any piano that needs restringing.

Roy Peters

Speaking of Cincinnati Retail , I just rebuilt a 1929 5'2" Hamilton for them. New pinblock, strings, and ...wapin. The service manager's eyes kind of lit up when he saw that I had put on wapin. I didn't tell him I was going to, I just did it. He had given me a budget, and I decided that wapin was the most cost effective thing I could do. Anyways, he has heard other wapin pianos and clearly liked the idea. He got more than he thought he was getting. It has original hammers, etc. It sounded nice, considering. It will be interesting to see how fast it sells. I'll let you know.

Roy

Ed Sutton

The piano is everything you said it would be. The customer is delighted.

Ed Sutton, RPT

Rolf von Walthausen

The SD-10 (or as it is affectionately known, "Wapin") is now used for orchestral/band concerts, choral accompanying and jazz combo. Prior to being wapinized it was never used at all except for one week in the summer during the chamber music conference. Just yesterday we made the decision to go with all Baldwin ("Wapin" and another SD-10) for our main concert/recital venue this summer (Kresge Auditorium, the large pavilion on the lake).

Rolf von Walthausen, RPT
Head Piano Technician at Interlochen

Keith Akins

Hi,
I have just returned from my first Wapin retrofit -- a S&S "D" at a summer music festival about 250 miles from home. First of all, many thanks to Tim for quick response to my order and for ongoing telephone conversation during the procedure. But more importantly, here's how it turned out:

First, the situation. This piano is one of two sequentially numbered 9' Steinways that are the stage pianos in the main auditorium (1800 seat) at a summer music in northern lower Michigan. One of the instruments was the "go to" piano -- chosen by almost everyone because it was the better instrument but not perfect. The other was the "dog" used mainly when there was a need for two pianos or in the rare instance being chosen for solo work. These pianos were new in 1972 and rebuilt by a high-profile eastern rebuilder in 1999. However the festival personnel were very unhappy-- especially with the one instrument. As part of the beginning of an upgrade to the pianos there, I was authorized to start by wapinizing one piano. I figured I'd start with the worst--figuring it would be worth improving so it could at least provide a viable alternative. Well, "improvement" is not an accurate description of the final result:

The "dog" is now the King. In it's wapinized incarnation it will be the "go to" instrument-- at least until the other one gets Wapin. I was utterly amazed. In the bass the piano reaches way down and brings almost unimagined tone up from the depths. Whereas previously the "killer octave" had more of a "tinkle box" effect, it now fits that title quite well. The high treble is full and powerful and the midrange has this wonderful tone that continues to blossom when you think it should start to decay. The only thing I can compare it to is some of the fine instruments that touring pianists have brought along with them from the Steinway C&A pool in New York.

Perhaps more to the point in terms of comparison is the other piano that was right there beside it. Usually with a rebuild or enhancement, you can hardly remember what the piano sounded like before. "It's better, but how much better?" "Am I just psyching myself into thinking it's better because I have invested my time and reputation or is it really better?" In this instance the other piano was there as an objective standard: Before I started the work it was by far the preferrable instrument. Afterwards, it was objectively clear that the Wapin piano had not merely come up in comparison but had clearly surpassed it.

And there was no rebuilding or action work (actually the action needs work but is now more acceptable until reweighting can be done). All I did besides Wapin and tuning was correct a number of bridge notches during the retrofit procedure (where the pin was down in the notch) and tune the duplex. I'm sure both of these would have made incremental improvement but they could not account for the radical transformation that I observed.

After this experience, I will have no hesitation to recommend Wapin to anyone who wants a significant improvement to their piano--with or without other rebuilding or enhancements.

--Keith Akins, RPT