Piano Tuning, Voicing, Piano Regulation & Repairs

Piano Tuning

The most basic maintenance to do for your piano to keep it in good playing order is to tune it regularly. The fact that pianos are constructed of wood, iron plates, steel strings under great tension, and felt – they go through fluctuations from playing, and general changes in weather conditions. Changes in humidity effect the tuning of the piano. As humidity rises, the wood in the soundboard of the piano absorbs the moisture and expands. When the soundboard expands, it creates even greater tension on the strings, causing the pitch of the piano to generally rise (or go sharp). Conversely, when humidity falls, the soundboard shrinks slightly, creating lesser tension on the strings. This causes the pitch to fall (or go flat). At a minimum your piano should be tuned once a year; twice a year or more for higher usage pianos, and customers who have a keener ear for tuning and pitch.

If the piano has changed in pitch more than 10 to 15 percent below standard, or has pushed above pitch by 10 percent, it will require a pitch correction (many times called a pitch raise) in order to insure that you will get the most stability possible out of your piano tuning. This is a quick extra tuning to get the pitch leveled out, followed by a fine tuning.

Piano Voicing

Voicing and tuning are two completely different procedures, but they both greatly improve the sound of your piano. While tuning deals only with tuning pins and changing pitch, voicing deals with the felt on the hammer (which strikes the string). Sometimes a customer may feel that their piano is too bright and edgy and wants it softer and more mellow. The technician will soften the felt in the hammer by using needles or a softening solution. It can be softened just a bit or a lot, depending on the needs of the piano and the preference of the customer. Conversely, if the customer feels the piano sound is too muffled, the technician will use a hardener on the felt that will give a more brilliant sound when the hammer hits the string.

Often I find that a piano’s voicing is uneven. Perhaps some notes will stick out and be brighter than others. A good voicing will make the piano sound smooth and even as it is played. As a piano ages, the felt on the hammers becomes harder and more compact. This will give a harsher overall sound. Many times, a good hammer filing is recommended to get a fresh felt surface to work with, followed by a good note by note voicing. Voicing is not required as often as regular tunings, but should be discussed with the technician. Voicing goals are tied very closely to the piano owner’s preference, but certainly the technician can give some very vital recommendations and direction in this process.

Piano Regulation

A piano needs to be in good regulation to play properly. Because there are thousands of working parts in a piano action, adjustments need to be made to insure that each key responds in a consistent manner. If one key doesn’t respond to the player’s touch as quickly as another key, it can be very frustrating to the player. If the action parts are out of regulation for one particular key, that key may not play at all, or play very irregularly, or even play in a very unacceptable manner. Over a period of years, pianos can go out of regulation in varying degrees because of general wear and compression of felt, wood shrinkage, and loosening of action screws. This can change the way these parts interact. As a technician, I might recommend doing a good regulation of your instrument to put these relationships back in perfect order so that your piano plays very smoothly and evenly. Just as a fine automobile needs servicing to make it run as a fine tuned engine, your piano may require a good regulation to make it play at its optimum level. Grand piano regulation can make a bigger difference to the player than perhaps regulation on an upright. Because the physics of a grand action are very different from an upright piano action, grand regulation parts can be adjusted to a far greater degree and can make the piano play very quick and even. Again, the piano technician can be relied upon to make good recommendations as to whether your piano would benefit from regulation work.

Piano Repairs

Occasionally, you may find something wrong with your piano–perhaps a key is not playing properly. Something may have become loose, a part may have come unglued, or an action part may have broken. Occasionally, a string will break either at rest, during play, or during tuning. I am more than happy to address any of these problems with you, and find a correction. Many times these things are minor, and can be fixed during a specific service call or at the time of your normal tuning. A very common problem to pop up is a sticking key. It may occur because of a tight key bushing that needs eased, or perhaps your action parts have become tight in the pivoting pins and some repining may need to be done. You may notice this as a sluggishness or lack of repeating in the keystroke. Not as often, some things may require more extensive time and effort to correct the problem: such as keys needing new felt bushings if they have become damaged or worn, or more extensive and complete repining needing done in multiple action parts. Whatever situation might arise, we can discuss the solution, options, time involved, specific pricing, and get the particular problem resolved.

Tuning Fee: $135.00

I am no longer servicing the old-fashioned style upright pianos.
Fees charged for additional work such as repairs, voicing, regulation, and pitch correction will be provided upon request.

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