Regulation & Voicing
What is Regulation?
Periodically pianos require regulation, which is a series of adjustments to mechanical parts to compensate for the effects of wear, the compacting and settling of cloth, felt and buckskin, as well as dimensional changes in wooden and wool parts. The weight of keys can also be adjusted. The goal of regulation is to make adjustments to the piano's touch and sound making it consistent across all notes. Regulation allows the piano to achieve the widest possible range of dynamics, and make the keys responsive to even the most rapid or most subtle motions of the player.
What is Voicing?
Over time and with use the felt hammers, as shown to the left, of your piano become more firm and the felt becomes more compressed. Additionally as each hammer strikes the strings, grooves can imprint the felt making the hammers uneven in surface. The harder the hammer the more harsh the sound of the piano becomes. Softer hammers give the opposite affect. Voicing works with the condition of the hammers and other affecting components to adjust the relative brilliance of the piano . Voicing provides an even graduation of volume and tone over the entire range of the keyboard, as hammers do not wear evenly.
Voicing procedures may involve reshaping the hammers, the use of needles on the hammer felt and may include the application of special softeners or hardeners in order to produce the best sound possible.
Basic Rules of Piano Care
- Keep your piano in tune. It was specially designed to be tuned to the international pitch standard of A-440 cycles per second. Your piano will sound its best and give you and your family the most pleasure when it is tuned regularly and kept in proper playing condition.
- Keep your piano clean. Keep the keyboard covered when not in use to prevent dust from accumulating (although ivory keys need some exposure to light to keep from yellowing). Clean keys by occasionally wiping them with a damp cloth and drying them immediately. If accumulated debris can’t be removed with a damp cloth, try wiping the cloth on a bar of mild soap or moisten with dishwashing detergent before wiping. Do not use chemicals or solvents to clean piano keys. Call a qualified piano technician to remove anything from the keys you can’t wipe away.
- To maintain the piano’s finish, you may wipe the case with a damp cotton cloth to remove fingerprints, or polish with a reliable emulsion-type, water-based solution following the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid aerosol spray polishes that contain silicone. Your technician may suggest a specific brand name.
- The maintenance of the inner workings of the piano should be left to a qualified piano technician. Resist dusting the inside of your piano, oiling the moving parts, or using moth or insect repellents. Your piano technician will take care of all internal problems.
- Try to maintain a fairly consistent temperature and humidity in the room where you piano is placed. it’s important to keep your piano away from a heating register in winter, an air conditioning vent in summer, a fireplace, a frequently opened window or outside door, and direct sunlight.
- Play your piano regularly. You’ll get the most enjoyment from it and also reach your potential much faster. A disadvantage to idle pianos, assuming they also suffer a service lapse, is that a detrimental condition or environment can’t be identified, and an escalating problem can result in damage that might not have occurred with regular service.
- Keep all drinks and standing liquid containers off he piano. Should spilled water reach the action, notify your piano technician immediately. In many cases, once liquids are spilled, the damage is irreversible which is why prevention is the safest rule to follow.
- Select a piano technician with care. It’s not only important that the service person be competent to perform tuning, regulation and repairs, but also that the person be someone you feel comfortable calling with questions concerning your piano’s performance. Hiring a registered piano technician who is committed to comprehensive service for your piano, and not just an occasional tuning, is your best assurance.
- Do not perform repairs yourself. Though a problem may appear easy to solve (such as replacing a loose key ivory), a qualified technician will have the proper tools and parts to make repairs quickly and correctly. It’s important to remember unsuccessful amateur repairs are usually much more expensive to fix than the initial problem and may decrease the value of your instrument.
-Use only a professional piano mover to move your piano. You will avoid injury to yourself, your instrument and your home.
Information for this page is from the brochure “How should I take care of my piano?”
Produced by: The Piano Technicians Guild, Inc.