Piano care consists of two parts. The first is setting the perfect environment for your piano. This is proactive and preventative care. By creating a space with favorable conditions you can avoid many potential pitfalls. The second is active piano care, meaning servicing your piano regularly. How do you service your piano for the best results? Read on and you will find out.
1. Piano Tuning
Tuning your instrument regularly is the bread and butter of piano maintenance. This is the simplest and most effective way to keep it performing well. For best results, it is recommended to tune your instrument twice a year, preferably when the weather changes. Depending on where you live the times may vary, but here in the North East, late spring and late fall are wonderful times to get your instrument tuned.
You may read in more detail about what piano tuning services entails in a related post we have. But in a nutshell, it is the process of adjusting the tension in the strings until they are perfectly in tune with each other.
Even if your instrument didn’t get much action in the past few months, it may still need maintenance, because climate fluctuations and simply the passing of time affect the tension in the strings and the constitution of this complex instrument. Playing your piano while it is out of tune may cause even more damage by putting unnecessary stress on its parts.
2. Action Regulation Piano
Pianos are musical instruments that should, if taken care of, serve their owners for many decades. However, with time the intricate mechanism and the many of moving parts will begin to age and deteriorate. When you begin to notice that your piano simply does not sound or feel like it used to, it may be time to have your piano regulated.
Regulation is a labor-intensive process of adjusting the action mechanism of each key to play within specification. There are a total of 37 adjustments that can be made to each of the 87 keys of your piano. Needless to say, this is a job that requires skill, precision and time. It is a best practice to regulate a piano roughly every 10 years. Immediately after a regulation, you should notice considerable improvement to your instrument’s quality of sound, general feel and responsiveness. A regulated piano will shed years off its tired frame and return to its youthful countenance.
While it’s not an exact science, to determine whether your instrument would benefit from action regulation, watch out for these red flags. Does your piano still sound off even right after a tuning (by an experienced technician you trust)? Do the keys feel less responsive when you play. And of course the best way to ascertain is to ask a trusted piano technician during your regular tuning appointment. We always explain the different options available to our clients in terms of piano care, the pros and cons of each and our genuine recommendation for their instrument.
Even if you regularly tune and maintain your piano, various issues will develop over time through regular wear and tear. But they will be exacerbated (and expedited) by climate fluctuations, leading to continuously expanding and shrinking wooden parts, damage from critters, such as moths eating away at the felt, or generally neglecting to maintain your instrument for long stretches of time.
Action regulation can and will increase your beloved instrument’s longevity. Regularly maintaining your piano will add decades of vibrant performances to its life.
3. Piano Voicing
Voicing is perhaps the most delicate procedure that can be performed on an instrument, as it controls the quality of the piano’s tone and the breadth of its musical expression. Mainly this is accomplished by adjusting the tension of the felt hammers, but can also involve reshaping the hammers themselves, adjusting the levels of strings and many other procedures in order to achieve the desired tonal quality.
Over time you may notice a gradual change in your instrument’s tone. As the hammers age and their felt wears, your piano’s tone may begin to sound harsh or too bright. You may find yourself unable to elicit a soulful delicate sound from your once capable instrument. As the action becomes uneven, you may feel as if you’ve lost control over the tone and volume of the pieces you play. If this is the case, it may be a good time to voice your piano.
Keep in mind that voicing need not only be performed to correct problems. Voicing can likewise be done to fit the specific taste of the musician and acoustics of the space. This is why sometimes new instruments are voiced once they reach their destination. Factoring in the specific acoustics of your space, can help achieve the desired effect precisely. Make sure to discuss exactly the tone you’re after with your technician before voicing commences. Once this is achieved, individual notes can be adjusted to have the instrument sound as even as possible.
Note that in order for voicing to work, the piano must first be well tuned and regulated. Think of voicing like the very fine tuning on top of an already well-oiled machine. Attempting to voice a piano that has problems in the action or is out of tune, will not produce any of the tonal qualities you are looking for.
To Service or Not to Service
If you’re still reading, you may be wondering just what you’ve gotten yourself into. A piano sounds like a lot of work, and in some ways it is. But you’ve already made the investment, and now wouldn’t you like to get the most out of it? Your instrument can serve you and your family for generations to come. With proper care, this investment can last a lifetime and bring you music and joy all along the way.
Hire an Expert technician for Piano Tuning and Repair now!