In the last article we answered two questions about Vertical Piano Regultation. We told you what would cause a grand piano to go out of regulation and we gave you a description in detail of how one particular regulation adjustment is made. Below you will find a few more commonly asked questions. So, lets get back on track…
What other adjustments will be made?
In addition to leveling the keys, a minimum job of regulation will include setting the hammer blow, taking up the lost motion, adjusting the hammer letoff, setting the key dip, and checking the amount of aftertouch.
How extensive of a job is it to regulate a piano?
The good news is that the work is done primarily on-site. The action may need to be taken to the shop beforehand for related repair work, but the actual job of regulation is done at the piano. The work is extensive in the sense that every adjustment needs to be made for every note on the piano. Additionally, many times a second pass through is necessary because of the fact that the adjustments are inter-related and affect one another. Also, be advised that the longer it has been since the piano was previously regulated, the more time will be required.
Are there ways to tell if a piano is out of regulation without precise measure- ments that only a technician can perform?
Certainly. One of the easiest symptoms to spot are keys that are no longer level. Get down on eye level with the white keys, and look to see if the keys are perfectly even from one side to the other. You can also use a lightweight straight- edge to check the level of the keys. Place it edgewise along the white keys and see if daylight shows between any of the keys and the bottom of the straightedge.
A second, easy-to-spot symptom of an action which is poorly regulated are hammers which are letting off too early. Lift the lid of your piano, and check to see how close the hammers come to the strings before being let off. To do this, push very slowly on a key while watching the hammer approach the strings. When a piano is well regulated, the hammer will come close to the strings before being tripped. If the release is occurring much more than 1/8" away from the strings, the piano’s letoff is in need of adjustment.
When these two specific adjustments are incorrect, it is part of a larger picture of a piano action which needs attention.
How often does a piano need to be regulated?
For most pianos, a regulation every 5 – 10 years should be adequate. Since a piano goes out of regulation as a result of the amount of play, a piano which is used on a more regular basis will need to be regulated more often than one that sits idle for long periods at a time.
If other repairs are needed, is there a logical order in which to do them?
Yes. If new keytops are to be installed, or if hammers are to be filed or replaced, regulation of the action should wait until those repairs are completed to avoid having to repeat making the same adjustments.
If an overhaul of the piano is in the works, on the other hand, this is the ideal time to regulate the piano. It will put the finishing touch on all the other piano repair work done, bringing it up to its potential.
With any needed repair work to your piano action accomplished and the regulation of the action done to perfection, your piano will be more responsive and fun to play than it has been in a long time.