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What is Regulation?

The (grand) piano action is the mechanical component of a piano and consists of some 10,000 parts. A piano is made up of a harp and a mechanism that strikes the strings on the harp, called the action. The action is made up of the keys and a system of moving parts that translates the movement of the keys into movement of hammers that in turn strike the strings. When a piano is new, the action is adjusted so that it will produce the best feel and response that the piano is capable of. What follows is the list of what HAS to be done in order to succesfully regulate an action on a (grand) piano, and all steps have to be followed:

Regulating the action

  • Tighten Plate Screws
  • Key Slip/ Key Height Measurements
  • Lube Spring & Lever
  • Tighten Plate Screws
  • Check Damper & Stop Rail Screws
  • Remove Stack & Key Strip
  • Remove Keys
  • Bed Keyframe (100 – 150 Grit)
  • Regulate Key Frame Glides
  • Replace Keys, Stack, Key Strip
  • Take String Height Measurements
  • Clean Action
  • Tighten Action Screws
  • Reshape Hammers
  • Remove Stack & Key Strip
  • Make Necessary Action Repairs
  • Lube And Polish Capstans
  • Remove Keys
  • Sand, Sweep & Lube Key frame
  • Polish And Lube Front And Balance Rail Pin
  • Brush & Lube Knuckles (Teflon)
  • Replace Keys – Check And Ease Front Rail
  • Balance Rail Bushings And Rail Pin Hole
  • Regulate Centre Pins And Flanges
  • Replace Stack
  • Travel Hammers
  • Check And Adjust Hammer Spacing
  • Centre Hammers To String
  • Level & Space Strings
  • Possibly Remove Stack & Use Key Weights
  • Level, Square And Space Keys
  • Regulate Key Dip
  • Replace Stack
  • Check Overall Alignment
  • Check Repetition Lever/Rocker/Capstan/Jack
  • Check & Adjust Jack To Knuckle Position
  • Check & Adjust Repetition Lever Height
  • Regulate Hammer Height Line
  • Regulate Hammer Rail
  • Adjust Let Off
  • Check Black Key Depth
  • Adjust Hammer Drop
  • Align Back checks To Catcher
  • Adjust Back check Distance/Height
  • Adjust Angle Of Back checks
  • Regulate Repetition Spring Tension
  • Regulate Height Of Key Stop Rail
  • Centre Hammers To Strings
  • Level & Space Strings
  • Remove Cloth, Check All Previous Regulations
  • Regulate Dampers & Pedals
  • Damper Guide Bushings
  • Damper To Keys
  • Damper Stop Rail
  • Dampers To Dampers Lift Rail
  • Sustaining Pedal To Lift Rail
  • Sostenuto Mechanism And Pedal
  • Hammer Lift Rail
  • Adjust Striking Point
  • Una Corda Pedal
  • Seat Strings
  • Raise Or Lower Pitch
  • Tune To A-440 (Fine Tuning)
  • Voicing Of New Hammers

Signs that regulation is overdue

  • Keys seem to go down too far or seem too shallow
  • Uneven touch from one note to the next
  • It is difficult to play softly and still have the notes sound
  • Notes do not repeat quickly
  • Notes continue to ring after the key returns
  • Pedals squeak
  • Piano has developed a harsh metallic sound
  • Keys rattle, action is excessively noisy

Over time as the action wears in, the felt compacts and the hammers wear, tone and the touch of the piano may start to decline. When this occurs it is time to look at regulating the action and voicing the hammers. Depending on how far the instrument has been allowed to decline this job may take just a few hours or a few days.