A piano must be completely repaired and restored in order to enjoy its full potential. Nowadays, the age of old pianos in our country is between 80-100 years and their accurate repair is essential if we hope to practise on them.
As many of us already know, it is not always easy to buy our first piano or to help our children to do so, but sometimes it is so complicated that a musical career is at risk due to lack of a good instrument and, as a consequence, the studies are dropped.
The piano has many important sections inside which we should pay special care and attention to, and they must be in perfect condition. One of them is the pegbox, the soul of the piano. If it is not working properly, we will not be able to tune the piano. The machinery must be well repaired and regulated in order to obtain the best possible result with each piano.
Faced with a scratch or a chip, we do not do touch ups. We replace the complete plate, making sure we use the most similar wooden plate available in the market.
Once this job is done, we polish the piano with varnishes and lacquers until the proper finish for each piano is attained.
The polishing and finish (high-gloss, semi-matte, matte) is done to fit our clients’ requirements.
The most common work consists of:
- The replacement or repair of the hammers. The hammer does a very important job.
- Replacing all the felts of the keyboard. These can get severely worn.
- Regulating the complete action and the keyboard. todo el mecanismo y teclado. Tuning and harmonising the hammers.
- The cost of this job varies according to the type of piano and the cost of the materials.
- Though less frequently, the dampers and the wippen also need to be replaced.
- Whenever necessary, it is always important to carry out quality repairs to the piano. This extends the life of the instrument and preserves it in good conditions.
The most important and expensive repairs are those which take place on the strings. The replacement of the strings and the tuning pins, and the repairs on the soundboard are more common in old pianos. In most cases, it is only sensible to do this if it is a good instrument.
Often, many ancient pianos have a “special” loudness that is worth recovering. If a piano is structurally sound it can always be repaired and considered if it is worth a repair.
“Today a new piano has much more quality than an old piano” and must be considered when investing.
Development, innovation, quality and design are here to stay!
It is important to know that tuning means to adjust the system of strings and pins that determines the pitch of each string. However, your piano also demands another frequent service called regulation, which adjusts the mechanical parts that make it possible for the string to sound whenever the keys are played and they affect the sound through the use of the pedals.
What is regulation and how does it affect the sound capacity of the piano?
Regulation is the adjustment of the mechanical aspects of the piano to compensate for the effects of the use of felt, fabric, and leather, and also for the changes in shape of the wood and wool parts due to the fluctuations in humidity.
The three systems involved in the regulation are the action, the pedals, and the dampers. The action is the mechanical part of the piano which transfers the movements of the fingers on the keys to the hammers, which in turn hit the strings. It consists of about 9,000 parts that have to be adjusted to respond to the needs of the pianist. The pedal system is made up of lifts, shafts, and springs that connect the pedals with the action, affecting the duration of the sound, as well as the different dynamics. The system of dampers is the part of the action of the piano which stops the vibration of the string when the key is no longer played, and it is controlled by the keyboard and pedal systems.
Why does the piano need to be regulated often even if it is frequently tuned?
Through tuning, the pitch of the sound of the piano is corrected, but it is just one of the components of a complete maintenance programme. Regulation takes care of the sense of touch and precise response of the mechanism, which are crucial for making sure that playing the piano is a pleasant experience. Moreover, regulation ensures that your instrument is capable of producing a broad dynamic environment –key factor in pianissimo passages in particular-.
Music is one of the most complex ways of self-expression. Its beauty depends on personal interpretation based on changes in dynamics and tempo. These changes require refined adjustments to respond to the characteristics of the pianist. A soft and balanced response capacity throughout the keyboard and a fast mechanism capable of playing agile passages and repeated notes in the same manner is essential.
Does every piano need to be regulated?
Every upright and grand piano needs consistent regulation for an ideal performance. The frequency of regulation depends on the use, exposure to fluctuations in temperature, quality, age, and overall condition of the piano. New pianos will require regulation during their first year so certain parts fit properly.
How often does a piano need to be regulated?
You as well as your technician have the responsibility to decide that. Several aspects are involved: the intensity and the amount of time of use of the instrument and the weather conditions are fundamental. A piano kept in relatively consistent conditions –not too damp, not too dry either-, at a temperature of 22°C and 42% of relative humidity, will require less attention. The quality of the instrument can also affect the frequency of regulation. Some manufacturers lower costs by not checking the regulation and harmonisation processes in the factory as many times as they have to. Some retailers sometimes pay special attention to the regulation processes before selling a piano, but others do not.
Also, some concert instruments need to be regulated before each performance as they have to conform to higher standards.
Which are the symptoms that indicate that a piano needs to be regulated?
If a piano shows signs of lack of sensitivity or a limited dynamic environment, it clearly needs regulation. If the keys are not even, that is, if they are not at the same level, if the touch is irregular or if more than one key is played at the same time, the piano definitely needs regulation. Nonetheless, a “lazy” action or deeply scratched hammers require repair. There is no way that practice can compensate for the problems in the action. The difficulty to play legato passages, unclear notes in the chords, gradual loss of subtlety in the phrasing, and the inability to play fast passages or the equal repetition of notes can be because of the piano and not the pianist.
Why do the systems in the action sometimes require conditioning or restoration before regulation?
Before regulating your instrument, the technician will advise you to condition it. If some of its parts are worn, if there has been corrosion or if there are faults caused by moths or other animals, it will be impossible for the piano to be properly regulated unless some parts of it are repaired or replaced.
Through cleaning, repair, adjustment, and replacement of the parts that need attention, conditioning is the process that restores the piano to the required standards for an optimal performance. If your piano shows signs of deterioration that go beyond a simple conditioning, it will have to be restored
Restoring involves complete disassembly, thorough examination, and repair of every part that is worn or deteriorated. Afterwards, the piano is reassembled and everything is checked and adjusted to the same or similar tolerance and performance the piano had when it was new.
A piano is an important investment that deserves to be protected by a regular service by a specialized and qualified technician. With proper maintenance, you will have maximum sound qualities and will be a source of pleasure for the whole family and in much of your life.