When a piano is manufactured there are many different adjustments that are made to enable it to play correctly, approximately a thousand separate tweaks and alterations will be undertaken. Each of the eighty-eight keys require a number of small alterations for the note to play as well as it can.
As years go by the felts and leathers either wear away or ”bed in”, which changes the way the piano responds to your touch. We regulate pianos so they play as they should, correctly with a lightness to the touch.
Correct regulation is essential to you obtaining the most satisfaction from your piano. Most pianos will play, but it is the manner in which the action responds to your touch, which will give you most pleasure.
The keys ought to feel as light as possible with each piano having its own individual feel. When you play a chord, all the notes ought to play with the same pressure delivered from each finger even when played lightly (although the force required at which they will deliver a sound will vary from piano to piano.
A great many pianos which we are called upon to tune are out of regulation, but with an extra hour or so spent setting up keys and adjusting the escapement, the customer feels they own a totally different instrument and for very little extra expense.
To regulate a piano” from scratch” is a longer operation and well worth the expense if you are an enthusiastic player and own a piano which is otherwise in good condition.
The list below indicates the bulk of the operations that are undertaken:
- Spacing hammers to strings. (Hammers may need refacing to allow this)
- Levelling and setting up keys to enable accurate escapement.
- Adjusting escapement.
- Adjusting checks.
- Adjusting damper effectiveness.
- Adjusting sustain pedal giving even lift on all dampers.
- Adjusting individual dampers lift.
- Repair or re-cover key coverings.
- Adjusting soft pedal.
The time involved can vary, typically from around 3 to 5 hours.
Grand piano regulation is very much a Full Octave specialty and gives us a great deal of satisfaction.
Many owners have pianos that they have played for years and play in a manner, which is nowhere near their designed performance, often worse than a cheap upright. Grand pianos are a bit like sports cars and need a more frequent fine-tuning of the regulation to keep them at their maximum performance level.
The design of grand actions can vary considerably but most work in a similar manner as to the common “roller action”. The most important functions of a grand action are that it performs with fast repetition from being played both very softly and more firmly. To enable the piano to work at it’s very best, a large number of fine adjustments have to be made.
The list below indicates the bulk of the adjustments made:
- Levelling keys and key dip.
- Removing key rattle.
- Adjusting hammers to string height.
- Adjusting jack to roller position
- Adjusting height of repetition lever
- Adjusting hammer drop screws
- Adjusting repetition lever springs
- Adjusting damper lift
- Adjusting individual damper lift
It has to be emphasised that accurate regulation cannot be undertaken if the piano has badly worn parts or is sticking. If that is the case it does not necessarily indicate the expense of a full restoration, as some parts do not as a matter of routine have to be renewed.
Grand regulation is rarely straightforward unless the piano is quite new, but the results can be amazing and if you love your piano, absolutely worthwhile and the cost ought not to be prohibitive.