Current Lead Time: 3 Weeks. Kestrel levers are built to order, according to the length you select.
The Kestrel Ultra Light & Stiff Carbon Fiber Tuning Lever
- 22mm shaft is over 3x stiffer than standard modulus carbon fiber tubing.
- Lightweight, hand-polished ABS ball handle.
- Compact 15° head maximizes stretcher & strut clearances.
- Downward offset handle adds comfort & reduces flagpole forces.
- Designed for Jahn male-threaded tuning tips. Optional adapter converts to Hale, Watanabe, BKB, & Taffijn compatibility.
NOTE: TUNING TIPS ARE SOLD SEPARATELY FROM LEVER.
We carry Jahn #2 male-threaded tips in 20mm, 30mm and 40mm lengths. We also have Jahn 25mm tip extensions, Jahn adapters (to convert the lever to work with Hale/Watanabe/BKB/Taffijn style female-threaded tips), and drawstring bags to protect the lever.
Each lever is handmade in our shop according to the length you select. Lead times will vary.
Choosing Your Lever Length:
The recommended length is 11 inches, which works well for most tuners, but we will make them any length between 7 and 13 inches. Levers longer than 11" will have a small cost increase.
Preferences vary: 11 inches is too short for some tuners and too long for others. Shorter levers provide better feedback and control, but require more effort to turn the pins due to the reduced leverage. Longer levers require less effort/strength to move the pins, but this advantage comes at the expense of accuracy and control. What works best for one tuner may not be ideal for another. The Kestrel is a finesse lever that really shines at shorter lengths and for high-end pianos with decent pinblocks. If you're used to a long lever that excels at tight pins, or need more leverage for uprights, we suggest that you continue using that lever for those situations, and consider a shorter Kestrel for higher quality grands and concert work.
Choosing Tuning Tip Length:
At this time, we only carry #2 Jahn tips. #1 and #3 tips are available from other suppliers, and also direct from Jahn in Germany.
If you are only purchasing one tip for your Kestrel (tips are sold separately from the lever), we recommend the 40mm long tip, because it will provide ample clearance for almost all plate struts and upright overhangs. We do carry a tip extension which can be used for unusual clearance situations. Jahn also makes a 55mm tip which we do not offer at this time, but can be purchased from other suppliers.
Next, the 30mm tip works fine for the vast majority of pianos, but for grands with especially tall plate struts or uprights with big overhangs above the pins, the 30mm tip will not be tall enough. If you are going to use a 30mm tip, we suggest having a backup lever with a longer tip, or purchase both a 30mm and 40mm tip so you can swap them as needed.
Finally, the 20mm long is the least versatile tip, since it will result in clearance problems for a lot of pianos. But in situations where the 20mm tip can be used, it is a real joy to tune with a lever that is so directly connected to the pin. The difference can be felt.
Benefits and Unique Features of the Kestrel:
1. It's as light as it gets (especially at the ball handle end), and this is a good thing! Less mass to push and pull results in better control, more accurate movements, and crisper tactile feedback to let you feel how the pin and wire is responding to your input. Lighter levers also reduce physical strain on your body.
2. The extreme modulus carbon fiber (specially made for our Kestrel) is over 3 times stiffer than typical, less expensive CF tubing. Regular modulus tubing sacrifices stiffness in favor of higher impact strength, which may be important for some applications. But a tuning lever does not require this compromise. The Kestrel's extreme stiffness further adds to the feedback and responsiveness, providing a more direct transfer of your inputs to the tuning pin.
3. The downward offset ball shape brings your hand down closer to the level of the tuning pins by about a half an inch. This makes the lever behave like it has a 12 degree head, while maintaining the strut clearance benefits of its 15 degree head. The position of the right hand's applied force (not the head angle) is what matters for efficient transfer of input forces to pin torque (minimizing flagpole forces). Better clearance allows shorter tip lengths, which means a lighter tool with better control. This tool was designed with these trade-offs in mind to provide a concert tuning lever that will give the best performance in the widest range of situations.
4. The center of mass is much closer to the tip, due to the composite ball handle being so much lighter than wood, which means less rotational inertia and momentum are working against you. On a heavier lever, this balance point might feel awkward for the wrist when moving from pin to pin, but this is not an issue with a tool weighing just over 4 ounces.
Actual weight can vary slightly.
11" ball-handled lever with 20mm tip: 4.1 ounces
11" ball-handled lever with 30mm tip: 4.5 ounces
11" ball-handled lever with 40mm tip: 4.9 ounces
Ball handle diameter = 52mm
Carbon fiber tube shaft diameter = 22mm
Head is 15 degrees (but downward offset ball lowers the point of applied force, making it feel and behave more like a 12 degree lever).
Notes on Handle Finish:
ABS is a durable plastic, but to prevent scratches and scuffs over years of use, we suggest storing the lever in a drawstring bag, or something that will otherwise protect it from being damaged by other tools in a tool case.
Will we offer other head angles in the future?
We are considering it, but reluctantly. While a smaller angle is ideal for upright pianos with no overhang (zero clearance issues) because it actually allows a more direct transfer of force without having to use a longer tip, a higher 15 degree angle is a better choice for a real-world lever that is used for tuning all types of pianos, simply because of clearance issues. If having a smaller angle makes it necessary to use a longer tip, or a tip extension to clear plate struts, that is a move in the wrong direction, and such a lever will not perform as well as a 15 degree lever with a shorter tip on grand pianos or uprights with overhangs. A vector analysis reveals that the head angle is actually of no importance if mass, stiffness, and ball handle elevation are otherwise the same. Unfortunately, mass and stiffness change in undesirable ways if you lengthen the steel tip to compensate for reduced clearance. For the majority of pianos, a smaller angle lever with a longer tip takes a less direct path in transferring force from your right hand to the tuning pin, and any benefit you may think you are gaining is more than negated by extra weight and reduced stiffness.