Frank French 

Tuning, Repair, Restoration 

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What is regulation and how does it affect my piano's performance? 

Prior to regulation, it is necessary to assess the condition of your instrument. If your instrument displays a lack of sensitivity or  decreased dynamic range regulation will improve it  If you notice that the keys are not level (some higher or lower than the rest), the touch is uneven or that the keys are sticking,  regulation is needed. A sluggish action, keys that wobble or swing instead of going straight up and down, deep grooves in the hammers and action noises  indicate the need for repairs or restoration before any regulation work can be done. With older pianos it is often necessary to replace worn parts as well. If the piano has deteriorated beyond basic repairs and reconditioning major action rebuilding is required.  Quality pianos of advanced age often merit the cost of major rebuilding over outright replacement with something newer.  For further information see the Piano Rebuilding Page

Action Regulating, Repair and Restoration 

A conscientious piano owner will have regular service by a qualified technician. You may, however, notice a deterioration of its performance despite regular tuning. It's important to note that tuning is only the adjustment of the system of strings and pins that determines the pitch of each string. Your piano also requires a periodic servicing called regulation, which attends to the mechanical parts which cause strings to sound when keys are played and affect the sound through use of the pedals. Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the pianos to compensate for the effects of wear, the compacting and settling of cloth, felt, and buckskin, as well as dimensional changes in wood and wool parts due to changes in humidity. 

How often regulation is needed  depends on amount of use, exposure to climatic changes and the instrument's quality, age and condition. New pianos may require regulation in their first year because settling and compacting of parts sometimes necessitates adjustment or because they were not sufficiently prepared in the factory or by the dealer.  

No amount of practice can compensate for a poorly maintained action. Poor legato touch, chord playing where all notes of the chord don't speak clearly, a gradual loss of subtlety in phrasing and an inability to execute quick passages or note repetitions evenly may be the fault of the piano -- not the player. 

Also, performance instruments may require some regulation before each use, due to the higher demands placed on them. Reconditioning is the process of putting your piano back in good condition by cleaning, repairing, and adjusting your instrument for maximum performance with replacement parts only where specifically indicated. If you piano has deteriorated beyond simple reconditioning, it may need to be rebuilt. 

Why is reconditioning or rebuilding of the mechanical systems sometimes necessary prior to regulation? 

Your piano is a major investment which deserves to be protected through regular servicing by a qualified technician. Properly maintained, your piano will sound its best and give you and your family a lifetime of enjoyment. 

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Rebuilding involves complete disassembly, inspection and repair as necessary with replacement of all worn or deteriorated parts. The piano is then reassembled, tested and adjusted to the same or similar tolerance and performance as when it was new. 

For a copy of this or other PTG Bulletins and Pamphlets, or a list of PTG members in your area, vist the PTG web site or contact Piano Technicians Guild, Inc., 4444 Forest Ave, Kansas City, KS, 66106. Ph: (913) 432-9975 Fax: (913) 432-9986 E-mail ptg@ptg.org

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The preceding article is a reprint of Technical Bulletin #1 published by the Piano Technicians Guild, Inc. It is provided on the Internet as a service to piano owners. 

© 2009 Frank French

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