The average piano has over 200 strings with an accumulative tension as high as 30,000 lbs. The piano’s soundboard is affected by seasonal changes, expanding in the humid summer months and contracting in winter. This is the primary reason pianos go out of tune.
When a piano is tuned, the string tension is adjusted to the correct intervals to create the most pleasing musical sound. To preserve and protect your valuable investment, manufacturers recommend that a piano be tuned 1-2 times a year to standard pitch at A-440. Tuning is the most fundamental of all piano service.
The piano action, with some 10,000 moving parts, requires periodic adjustments to compensate for wear, compacting of felts and changes due to atmospheric conditions. These adjustments are called regulating.
Regulating maximizes the touch response of your piano’s action by bringing the relationship of the many moving parts back to the specifications of the manufacturer. Evenness, smooth touch, dynamic control and ease of repetition are attributes of a finely regulated piano.
Along with the musical benefits, a well-regulated action greatly increases the longevity of the mechanism. When the action parts are properly aligned and working at optimal efficiency, there is less wear on the mechanism. Pianos that are not in proper regulation for long periods of time will require the replacement of action parts sooner than a piano that has been kept regulated.
Voicing, or tone regulating, is the adjustment of the tone and musical quality of the piano. Over time, a piano’s hammers become worn and hardened creating a tone that is harsh and uneven. The player may notice that it becomes difficult to play softly or with control. Certain notes or registers of the instrument may be louder or brighter than others. Gradually over a period of time, the pianist notices that the instrument sounds different from when it was new.
To voice a piano, the hammers are reshaped to their original condition. The strings of the piano are leveled and the hammers are fit to the strings. Careful needling of each individual hammer creates an even, warm, musical palette from the quietest pianissimo to the biggest fortissimo. Much like with action regulating, piano hammers that are properly maintained last much longer and offer greater enjoyment to the pianist throughout the life of the instrument.
Even the most well maintained piano will eventually need to have some or all action parts replaced. This is a result of age and general wear of the action components. It is difficult to regulate and voice a piano when the action parts have become hardened and worn with age.
The replacement of some action parts, or the complete rebuilding of a piano action can greatly improve the musical experience and add many years to a piano’s longevity.
RENOVATION AND REBUILDING
Most quality pianos at some point need structural repairs along with action rebuilding. Soundboards and bridges, critical to the piano’s sound, may need to be repaired and in some cases replaced. The ability of the instrument to be tuned, the most fundamental of all piano service, may be compromised by loose tuning pins or a failing pin block. Old strings eventually corrode creating a dull, lifeless tone.
A partial renovation or a complete rebuilding can address these problems and in many cases double the longevity of the instrument. Along with refinishing the case and hardware, a piano can be returned to like new condition. This can be performed at a fraction of the cost of a new piano.
Since the piano is made largely of wood, it is not surprising that humidity has a significant effect on pianos. When exposed to unfavorable climatic conditions, pianos will not stay in tune for long periods of time. In more extreme conditions, they can suffer structural damage.
The Dampp Chaser System has been proven to provide maximum protection to pianos. Tuning instability can be greatly improved with the installation of a Dampp Chaser System while protecting the instrument from costly structural damage.