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What is piano regulation?

David playing concert grand piano

A comparison

Most experienced drivers have probably driven at least a few different vehicles in their lifetime, whether replacing an older vehicle, test-driving at the dealership, or renting one while on a trip. We know that different vehicles offer distinctive driving experiences from one another. These differences could be due to the size of the vehicles, model, or changes to the mechanical specifications. There are also features, upgrades, or enhancements that can be added at the factory or shop.

A car enthusiast or professional driver often has specific preferences that they’ve refined over time through their research and exposure to different machines. These drivers want their cars to respond in a way that feels powerful but also effortless. Well, the same can be said for many piano players.

piano action
piano action

What does any of this have to do with pianos?

A piano is essentially a machine between the pianist and the strings. The machine causes the strings to make the sound. Like all machines, pianos are made up of many specific parts (over 12,000 on a grand) that have particular jobs to do. Like all machines, over time these parts wear out and need adjustments. The process of replacing and adjusting these parts is addressing the piano’s regulation.

There is quite a vast range for which parts and adjustments can be addressed in regulation. Pianos naturally go out of regulation over time, which changes the feel or sound of the piano and what it's able to express dynamically. If the piano’s regulation goes too far out, it can start to affect the mechanical functionality of the instrument.

Driving a piano

Just as an experienced driver can feel how specific cars perform uniquely on the road, a pianist will notice the distinctive feel and response they will get when playing individual pianos. And a great many of these differences can be attributed to regulation.

Fortunately, a qualified technician can perform regulation services to return a piano to its original sound and feel. Regulating a piano, like tuning, is a routine part of piano maintenance, like oil changes and parts replacements on vehicles. If you take good care of your instrument, it will continue to serve you well.


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