Photo: piano regulationAs a piano is played, its mechanical parts wear and shift out of alignment with each other. This deteriorates the piano’s performance making it unpleasant to play and giving it uneven feeling keys and a clumsy sound.

Regular tuning is the one best thing to keep a piano sounding good. But tuning only addresses the pitch of the strings — and there is much more to a piano than just strings.

The maintenance and adjustment of the mechanical parts of a piano is called regulation. Regulation corrects changes to the piano caused by wear, the compaction of cloth, and humidity induced changes in wood, buckskin, and wool.

Mechanical Systems

Three distinct systems comprise the mechanical parts of a piano: the action, the trapwork, and the damper system.

  • The action transmits force from the keys to the hammers.
  • The trapwork connects the pedals to the action to control the sustain and the dynamics.
  • The damper system quiets the strings when a key or the sustain pedal is released.

Regulation addresses all three systems.

How Piano Regulation Is Done

Another photo of regulationTo regulate a piano, its action is removed. The action comprises the bulk of the piano’s “machinery” and includes the keyboard and hammers.

Regulation’s goal is to give each key the same feel and hammer motion as its neighbors. Loose and noisy keys are repaired.

Most actions are regulated on-site so your piano will not be out of service for an extended time.

The trapwork and the damper system remain in the piano and are regulated in place.

What Regulation Gives you

When the mechanical systems of the keys and hammers, dampers and trapwork are in proper order, all the registers of the keyboard will have a similar touch. Soft passages can be played softly, and loud passages loudly. The pedals will feel even. Noises and clicks will be gone and the keys will be level.

(This assumes, of course, that the wear in the piano is not so extreme that a reconditioning or a rebuilding is necessary).

For more information about regulation, see the Regulation Technical Bulletin at the Piano Technician’s Guild web site.