Our high-end piano preparation service is a thorough quality control procedure and a remarkable refinement in the overall performance of the instrument.
We are unique in that we can supply your piano not just ‘factory prepared’, but can prepare your selected piano to your preference in tone (brilliance), touch (action responsiveness) and pedal sensitivity.
Many of our clients are delighted with the results and appreciate how invaluable our Bespoke Preparation is in finding that special instrument.
Custom Preparation work can include voicing (toning of hammer felts) to ensure a consistent and neutral level of tonal brilliance, checking and adjustment of action regulation, pedal regulation and fine tuning.
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Set up (pre-regulation)
Prior to regulating and voicing, cabinet screws and frame bolts are tightened. Strings are checked to be correctly spaced and seated properly on the bridge by tapping down. String termination points are checked. Strings are leveled.
Preparation of the piano keyboard includes sizing or easing the key balance holes, key bushings and lubricating keyframe pins and capstans. This makes a great improvement in responsiveness and reliability of the keys. Spacing and leveling of the keys and, on a grand – bedding the keyframe – lays foundation for precise regulation. Depth of touch is set to 10mm.
Action components, such as the levers and hammer flanges, are checked for correct friction.
Casting and traveling hammers is a critical procedure prior to regulation and voicing. This process corrects the direction, space and angle of each hammer for a square contact with the strings.
On grands, setting the jack height and position is a fine balance to achieve efficient transfer of energy between key/hammer without lost motion and minimising escapement time. This is a friction point during the action’s cycle.
Regulation is the calibration of the action to establish a responsive and balanced touch that is both easy to draw expression and repetition. Measurements are taken for each section of the piano to determine the optimum key height/depth in relation to the hammer at rest position (‘blow’) to enable the ‘set-off’ and ‘drop’ (grands) with an ideal amount of ‘after-touch’ for a pleasant feel, before then setting the ‘back check’ and tensioning repetition springs (grands). Several passes through regulation achieves a fine response.
Correct damping is critical in achieving a reliable half-pedal and clean cut off, to minimise unwanted overtones or ‘ringing on’. We align dampers and check the damper seating; set the global lift of dampers (pedal) and individual damper pick-up at the key.
Ensuring the damper pedal (sustain) lifts all dampers slightly above the key damper pick-up peak allows the key stroke to be smooth. Else the damper pick-up at key would engage with the damper action towards the end of the key stroke.
We set the damper slap rail to prevent dampers travelling beyond the global lift as this would otherwise delay damper return and be felt with the damper action landing back on the key. A tedious process but rewarding!
Voicing / Intonation
Preparation of the hammers before voicing includes “mating” the hammers to the strings. It is vital that each hammer strikes all strings of its note (the trichord or bichord) to ensure a clean, solid and immediate tone.
Voicing is the process of intonation – adjusting the degree of brilliance in tone and uniformity across the piano. The art is to respect the piano’s characteristics and meet the taste of the client and suit the acoustic environment.
Mellow, warm, neutral, clear, bright are the typical degrees of brilliance in voicing description.
The tone contrast and dynamic range can be refined in the process of voicing. Where there may be 3 strings to each note in the tenor and treble (trichord) and 2 strings in the upper bass (bichord), the brilliance may be uneven resulting in a bright yet weak tone. We check and voice each string as a final stage of voicing.
On grands “voicing the unacorda” is a method of enhancing the effect of the left pedal.