Have you ever played on a new, quality piano? Hopefully so. Many of us have dreams of what our future in piano ownership may look like, but currently do not have the means to invest in the piano that we so much desire. What can be done? You can regulate your current piano.
To regulate a piano is to adjust all of the parts so that they operate uniformly and efficiently. The greatest difference between a new and a used piano is that the parts in the used piano have become worn and no adjustments have been made to compensate for the wear. The simplest way to visualize this is to think of a mechanical pencil. As you write you need to compensate for the wear on the pencil lead by clicking to expose more lead. Otherwise the quality of the writing is progressively compromised to the point of not writing at all.
As parts in a piano wear, they no longer make proper contact with one another, compromising the action and its uniformity and predictability. This is very frustrating for all pianists and a great detriment to the beginning pianist. One very obvious symptom of a piano in need of regulation is the inability to play softly. Sometimes when a pianist tries to play pianissimo, no sound comes out at all. This is because the hammers do not make contact with the strings unless a medium strength blow is delivered by the pianist. Another symptom is inconsistency in the amount of pressure required to play from one key to the next. Some will be more or less difficult to depress than others.
Pianos should be very predictable. Every note should feel identical to its neighbors so the pianist does not have to fight against the instrument to produce beautiful music. It is difficult enough to to read all the notes on the page and ensure that one's fingers hit all the correct notes. Experienced pianists are usually capable of making beautiful sounds come from any piano that is placed before them, but a beginner should never be expected to enjoy and excel at playing the piano when given an instrument that is out of regulation.
So, what is done during regulation that makes such a great difference in the uniformity and predictability of the piano? There are actually around thirty-five steps in total. The intent of this article is not to review all of those steps, but to provide a brief overview. The first step is to replace any parts that are worn to the point that they cannot properly function even if regulated. Pianos are full of wood, felt, and leather parts that do eventually become worn to the point of needing replacement.
After all the worn and broken parts have been replaced, the process of making adjustments can begin. Some of the adjustments that are made during regulation include shaping the hammers to eliminate the grooves and restore a proper strike point, key leveling, string leveling, mating the hammers to the strings, setting the distance from the strings to the hammers, adjusting how much the keys "dip" when depressed, adjusting the dampers to all lift the proper amount and simultaneously. There are many other steps, but the ones that have been mentioned pertain to parts that are immediately recognizable to most pianists.
Regulating your piano can make a world of difference in how it feels to play and the enjoyment you can experience while playing. It is critical for the beginning pianist to play on a well regulated instrument so they do not quit prematurely. Your piano can feel much like it did when it was new. If you would like a quote or to schedule a regulation, please contact us and we would be happy to do both.