What is 'regulation' of a piano?
Regulation (or regulating) has to do with making
adjustments to the mechanical parts called the 'action'. Regulation tends to change as felt becomes packed and hardened through use, humidity changes and age. To correct for these changes, keys need to be adjusted for even height, angle, spacing and regulation of action travel distance. The rest of the action is then adjusted to optimize all relationships and obtain the best key "touch." To properly perform a full regulation service, the entire action assembly is removed from the piano cabinet.
How long does it take to tune a piano?
Considering the typical piano has some 230 individual strings to be checked and adjusted, a standard tuning session takes approximately 90 minutes. If your piano has not been tuned annually or was tuned under pitch, your piano may require a "pitch raise" before a fine tuning. This process will require a follow up visit of 60 - 90 minutes the following week for a fine tuning session, as your piano will actually need to be tuned 2-3 times. An electronic tuning device is used to determine how far below A440 (standard pitch) the piano may be to determine if one or more additional tunings are needed.
What is a "pitch raise"?
If your piano has not been tuned for a long time (perhaps 2 years or more), some of your piano's notes could be as much as a quarter step or more out of tune. The pitch of your piano is measured using a electronic tuning device to determine how far from A440 your piano may be flat. If it is over "15 cents" flat, a pitch raise may be performed during the first visit and possibly a fine tuning later. If it is over "50 cents" flat, then 1-2 pitch raises and a fine tuning will be required. In general, the longer a piano has gone without regular service, the more tuning sessions will be required to re-establish tuning stability. Each piano string contains between 50-100 pounds of tension. Thus, bringing the piano up to pitch could add over two tons of pressure to the frame and plate. This requires tuning the piano two or more times to equalize the tension along the entire width of the piano plate. The first tuning is a rough tuning called a pitch raise which is then followed by the fine tuning. If a pitch raise is not done, as one section of the piano is tuned, the warping effect would cause the other sections to go out of tune. Even worse, attempting to tune too much too fast can cause string breakage and possible damage to your piano.
How often should my piano be tuned?
Most piano manufacturers recommend that a brand new piano be tuned 3-4 times a year while settling takes place, which is usually within the first year. Once the piano has settled, it should be tuned a minimum of two times per year. Some piano owners may find optimum performance is achieved from their piano by having it tuned more frequently. Tuning your piano regularly will help ensure its quality condition and performance for a lifetime. Please inquire about piano regulation and voicing services as well.
Why does my piano go out of tune?
Since the piano is constructed of natural materials including wood, metal, leather and felt, it is subject to change with climatic conditions, such as swings from warm to cold or from dry to humid. These changes cause the piano's materials to expand and contract, thus affecting pitch, tone and action response (or touch). To reduce the severity of these effects, one can position the piano away from windows or doors that open frequently to the outside. Avoid placing a piano near heating and air conditioning vents, near fireplaces or in direct sunlight. A piano also goes out of tune after moving it from one location to another and from routine playing of the instrument. Depending on the pianist, concert pianos are sometimes re-tuned during the intermission of any given concert performance!