Tradition and Innovation
Who We Are
Phonomeme Limited is a small piano maintenance business that now specializes in Precision Touch Design (PTD), the latest and greatest of innovations in the piano industry. We have a workshop in North London where all the piano action work is undertaken, and, next door to that, a small music studio with a 6'8" Bechstein model B grand piano that has been upgraded to a Precision Touch Design and can be hired for recordings. PTD incorporates the "new touchweight metrology" and the "equation of balance", devised and developed by David Stanwood, an American piano technician. It's a procedure that can be applied to any grand piano action, and results in a 'touch', or 'feel', that flows through the fingers like a warm summer breeze, enabling the pianist to elicit all the tonal richness and nuanced expression that evades the common or garden conventional action. If the 'touch' of your piano is too light, or too heavy, or uneven, it's PTD that will cure the problem. If you click on the link below you will find everything you need to know about PTD.
PIANO FOR SALE
BECHSTEIN MODEL L nr: 125773
Phonomeme draws 90% of its work from the large body of customers that has been built up by Bruce Lamond during the 46 years he has been in the business. Occasionally, however, we get the rare opportunity to pursue our own project, and this Model L is one such.
This piano has been completely renewed inside and out, with a new soundboard, new bridge, and new wrest plank - a top of the range reconditioning job. It has been restrung on a newly gilded frame, and the casework is a lovely mahogany figure that has been polished to a beautiful satin finish. The keys are the original ivory and ebony, and the Action has been thoroughly refurbished with new felts, new hammers and dampers etc., and, of course, a Precision Touch Design is installed
NEW SOUNDBOARD AND BRIDGE
The soundboard has been constructed and installed according to best tradition and practice, with the aim of achieving the highest quality of sound. This traditional method causes the soundboard to be in a state of "compression", and creates the curved, convex, surface known as the "crown". In this state, to quote Wolfenden, "the whole structure thus becomes a highly elastic spring" which is pre-eminently suited to counteract the pressure bearing down upon it from the tensioned strings, and which is, in fact, the key element that enables the piano to produce its resilient and complex sound. The result is a 'system of opposing forces' poised, as an athlete on the starting blocks, to burst into life when the hammers hit the strings and unleash their vibrations, which are instantly energised to produce the resonant and rich tones associated with top quality instruments.
Not all soundboards are made in this way. Modern methods include laminated and solid constructions which, although maybe having a crown, are not under compression, and remain passive or inert structures that lack the expressiveness and colour and complexity of the 'compression crown'. Some may even have tension across the surface of the board, the very opposite of compression. Laminated soundboards do have their qualities, of course, (not prone to cracking or splitting; more stable tuning, perhaps; cheaper, certainly), but cannot compare in quality of tone with soundboards of the type installed in this Bechstein Grand.
PTD REGISTERED NUMBER: 354
All genuine Precision Touch Designs in Europe are registered with the PTDAE [Academy of Europe], in order to monitor and maintain standards, and to reassure customers that the Design has been approved and certified.
Not much is known about PTD, yet, especially in Britain, so musicians have not had the opportunity to experience it, but I would urge anyone who loves to play the piano to seek out the opportunity. At the moment, it seems to me that the vast majority of musicians and, likewise, the majority of Piano Technicians, have either not heard about PTD, or are indifferent to it (or - on the part of technicians - are actually antipathetic towards it even though they have no experience of it!) but, when they get the opportunity they are bowled over by it. As I was!
What PTD solves is the age-old problem of Inertia in piano actions - i.e. the Resistance, posed by the Mass in the mechanical assembly of moving parts, to the Energy generated by your finger when you touch down a key. Because of this there are inconsistencies, from one Action to another, in the feel of the Action when you play - even when they have an identical 'downweight' (the minimum weight/force required to set the key moving). When different piano actions have the same 'downweight', they will 'feel' very similar when played at this most pianissimo level (which is almost never!); but as soon as you start playing through the full dynamic range (which is all the time!), they 'feel' quite different - lighter or heavier, more or less (un)even. This is because of Inertia. You feel Resistance. It's easy enough to move a heavy weight slowly, but much harder to accelerate it rapidly. Too much resistance makes playing heavy and difficult; too little and the Action becomes light and you lose control. We want it 'just right'!
David Stanwood set out to investigate this problem. Employing the best traditions of the Scientific method, he analysed many Actions, good and bad, to determine what, precisely, made them that good or bad, working with pianists to arrive at a consensus of what was ideal. His great achievement, and great service to the Trade, was to distill all this research and data into a simple formula, which came to be known as the Equation of Balance. What this formula does, is find the optimal pivoting point of the key lever in relation to the weight at the front of the key and the weight of the hammers and wippens on the back of the key, and apply this equilibrium to every note in the Action. The result is a beautifully smooth Action from top to bottom, with great control over the dynamic range. If you're as inexpert a player as I am, you may even begin to understand what professional pianists mean by nuance and 'tone colour'; pianissimo, even! Any appropriately trained piano technician can now determine, by Design, how a reconditioned Action will turn out, and tailor it to the requirements of the customer - greater or lesser dynamic resistance; lighter or heavier feel of touch; louder or quieter - with much more surety and confidence than was previously possible.
Compared to other musicians, most pianists are uniquely disadvantaged in that they never have the experience of playing a truly marvellous instrument [for argument's sake let's say a Steinway Concert Grand costing £130,000+!]. At best, we might have a decent upright in good nick, or even a small grand, at home, which hasn't been regulated or refelted or toned for a few decades. It's not bad; you get by; you're used to it; you like it well enough, and you get it looked after - but it's nothing like that dream Steinway in the parallel universe piano heaven! If you're a professional pianist then you have to endure very indifferent or even downright appalling instruments. Such challenging experiences have even led some pianists to develop the theory that they need to practise on heavy, difficult actions, just so they're able to deal with the horrors in the real world. This is not an acceptable state of affairs! All other musicians, with their flutes and guitars and penny whistles, can have the finest quality instruments with them at all times, throughout their lives. With PTD, though, the field is levelled - any Grand Piano Action can be upgraded to perform to the highest level. That is not to say we can turn it into a Steinway concert grand - we haven't learnt how to turn 5' into 9', yet - but we can, with PTD and the 'Equation of Balance", get any action to perform to its ultimate potential, and "feel" like the very best.
PIANO TUNING AND REPAIRS
Our field of operations is pretty much confined to the North London area. Prices are generally around £70-£90 depending on circumstances. please call for bookings and details
PRECISION TOUCH DESIGN
All piano action repairs undertaken - onsite or in the workshop - but full reconditioning is exclusively carried out according to PTD protocol
This small studio is centered around the piano. It's suitable for small projects: singer-songwriter; pianist accompanying a couple of instruments or singers, etc.
Registered PTD number: 264
NB. Activities currently suspended
Lowest possible prices commensurate with the highest standards
+44 7984 922495