Tech letter for Teachers #3

So what does it mean to regulate a piano?

The simplest answer would be to make all the necessary adjustments to the playing mechanism to provide for the most efficient playing. But of course life is not always simple. Different manufactures have differing “specs”, as pianos and parts age refined adjustments become harder to accomplish. Like soundboards, action parts change dimensions as the relative humidity changes. To add a finale variable to this mix there is uneven skills and expectations between technicians.

A good example of this difference would be the adjustment called “let off”. This controls how close the hammer gets to the string before the jack is removed from under it. If you have a grand piano look inside at where the hammers hit the strings, very slowly depress a key and see how close the hammers gets to the strings before falling or stopping. On upright pianos, open the lid and do the same thing. On new pianos fresh from the factory this can be as large as 1/2”, even after this piano has been “prepped” by the store technician it can be 1/4”. You may not immediate notice this unless of course you want to play softly or are a young child, in which case you will find it difficult to impossible to play. On some concert pianos it can range from 1/16” to 1/4”. The later still may be difficult to control in pianissimo playing but the former may become problematic as soon as the weather changes. This is one adjustment of dozens which can be done to each key. Where your let off should be set depends on the frequency of service, wear on the parts, and overall demands of the player.

A bare bones regulation may involve only a half dozen different adjustments while a truly complete regulation will involve the weighing and balancing of each component of the action from the hammers, shanks, wippens, and especially the keys.

Does your piano need some regulation work? The simple answer is yes. I have never seen a piano which could not be improved upon. Even if the action adjustments are set exactly where they should be, the keys invariably need to be weighed off, the hammers strike weight set, leverage improved, etc. This latter work is rarely done but it can provide the most dramatic improvement in your instrument.

If your piano doesn’t have a smooth, easily controlled touch give us a call for a diagnose of its regulation needs at: anrpiano @ 630-852-5058