When a new grand piano is received at Cooper Piano, it is put through a thorough inspection process before it is placed on the showroom floor. This inspection is primarily designed to uncover any parts misalignment incurred during shipping, but also includes procedures for satisfying the musical needs of individual customers.
The inspection is broken up into three separate parts:
As the piano is unpacked and re-assembled, all cabinet parts are individually inspected for proper fit and damage from shipping. The parts are then polished to remove any surface imperfections and/or residue left from shipping material.
In a grand piano, the pinblock, inner rim, soundboard and cast iron plate are engineered as a single structural unit, the purpose of which is to withstand the 20-plus tons of cumulative tension exerted by the strings – and to do so securely enough that the entire system will remain stable to within a tolerance of a few ounces of tension in each individual string. Once again, the inspection process involves checking to make sure that all parts have maintained a secure fit during the shipping process. The pinblock must be fit precisely to the plate, and the entire plate/rim assembly must be firmly bolted together throughout the structure.
Also, all strings are checked individually for secure “seating” at both the bridge and forward termination point (agraffe or capo bar).
The piano’s action is the direct link between the player’s musical aspirations and the music that is ultimately produced by the piano’s tone-producing system – its soundboard assembly. Each key consists of a system of levers that is designed to perform a number of tasks required to catapult a felt covered hammer into the string, initiating the piano’s tone, then reset itself as quickly as possible for the next stroke.
The mechanical inspection process involves making sure that all action parts are properly aligned and regulated to factory specifications, so that the piano player has optimum control of the piano’s musical potential at all dynamic levels. During the process, parts are aligned, adjusted and lubricated as needed.
After a thorough inspection, there are times when added service is required on new grand pianos. Both the piano’s touch and its tone are subjective qualities, and can at times be modified by a skilled technician to produce musical effects tailored specifically to an individual’s musical tastes. These modifications can involve either or both of the following:
- Small adjustments to the piano action’s regulation parameters (touch-response modifications) that will have the effect of customizing the way the piano responds to an individual pianist’s technique.
- Tone regulation (“voicing”), which is the manipulation of the hammer’s resilient properties which have the effect of eliciting different tonal qualities in the piano.
Taken together, the entire inspection process, along with each customized service procedure, is designed to maximize the musical potential for every piano at Cooper Piano, and satisfy the musical needs of any customer.