Tech letter for Teachers #4

So what do I do if my piano still plays poorly after it has been regulated?

Sometimes, even after a very thorough regulation, a piano can still have a very heavy or uneven touch. There are some problems which simply can not be regulated away. At this point several measurements must first be taken to determine exactly what must be done to achieve your customized touch for the maximum tonal and technical control.

Touchwieght, the amount of weight necessary to depress the key a certain distance and the amount of weight the key can pick up, is the first of many measurements taken to diagnose the source of the excessive (usually) or insufficient weight in the action. A downwieght of +/- 50 grams is the typical range. More than 60 grams and the piano will begin to feel sluggish, heavy, and tiresome to play. Less than 40 grams and keys may not fully return upon release and the piano may feel hard to control because the fingers will lose contact with the keys. The difference between these two numbers indicates a level of friction and inertia within the action.

Here is where the “art” of action design or redesign comes to play. To properly balance the friction within the action, (yes, we want some), and to minimize inertia (as much as possible) many perimeters must be balanced.This can be accomplished simply by smoothing out the weight of the hammers from one to the next, smoothing out the key leads from one key to the next, or in more extreme cases moving such items as the capstan in the key, wippen heal, and the hammer knuckle. Some of this can be more easily accomplished by replacing parts but many times not.

Yes, this can become a very involved process very quickly, but it is possible to give you the player exactly the touch you desire. You will no longer struggle to even out your scales, compensating for an uneven piano, no more uneven balance weight from one note to the next. It will become a joy to play your piano because you will no longer be fighting against it.

This can be best thought of as an after market improvement, the kind that is often performed on high end sports cars. After these items are purchased they are often sent to customizing shops for the final finish work.

Where do these problems come from? Some were part of the original design. Yes, even certain East coast manufactures didn’t always get it right. Some times these imbalances were introduced in subsequent rebuilding. Regardless of where they came from, they can be made to go away.

For additional information about customizing the touch on your piano please call Andrew Remillard at: anr piano @ 630-852-5058.