Voicing

Voicing

Voicing Voicing a piano means making adjustments which change its tone. It is a different process than tuning, and this difference is important to understanding what people mean when they refer to tone. Tuning changes the pitch of the string, while voicing changes the quality of the sound it produces, or the tone. Tone Piano tone refers to how the piano sounds overall. It is a complex topic, but one commonly discussed aspect of tone is brightness vs. mellowness. The following audio clips are of the same song, Satin Doll by Duke Ellington, played the same way, but with different tonal qualities. One has a brighter tonal quality, while the other has a mellower tonal quality. Listen to them back to back to get a sense of the difference. Bright   Mellow   A bright piano produces more harmonics on the higher end of the spectrum, while a mellow piano produces more harmonics on the low end. For a breakdown of harmonics we have a separate post on...
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Free Pianos

Free Pianos

Free Pianos Free pianos abound on the internet, at yard sales, or as hand-me-downs. It is tempting to pick one up, since it will potentially save you time, energy, and lots of money. Or will it? In my experience as a piano technician, free pianos that are actually worth tuning and maintaining are few and far between, though they do exist. "Free" is also a deceptive term in the context of the piano market, since there will still be costs associated with moving the instrument and preparing it for use. Free Is A Relative Term Yes, you found a piano that someone is giving away. But you still have to move it and make it usable. Moving Costs Even the smallest acoustic pianos are heavy and large compared to other objects people normally move around. In addition to the size and weight, it's best not to handle it too roughly while you're moving it, or you could render your new find useless. This means you'll want...
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What Is Regulation?

What Is Regulation?

What Is Regulation? Overview Regulation is equally as important as tuning, but piano owners are generally less aware of its necessity. In broad terms, regulation involves a technician going over the moving parts of the piano to make sure they are functioning properly. Pianos should be regulated periodically in order to: compensate for environmental changes (such as increases or decreases in humidity) compensate for wear and tear improve feel and tone Regulation does not need to be done as often as tuning, but neglecting it results in poor performance and tone. If a piano is never regulated, parts may stop working altogether. I recommend that clients get their pianos regulated at least once every 5 years, or any time things start feeling noticeably worse. During the course of a regulation, a technician will go over two main systems: the action and the trapwork (pedals). The Action The bulk of a regulation takes place in the action. A piano's action is all of the parts that connect...
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The Differences Between Grand And Upright Pianos

The Differences Between Grand And Upright Pianos

The Differences Between Grand And Upright Pianos A Brief History of the Piano The first piano was created by an Italian named Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700. His intention was to make an instrument with a more dynamic tone than the harpsichord, which does not allow musicians to have much control over the volume of the notes they are playing. It was originally called a pianoforte, because in Italian the terms “piano” and “forte” mean “soft” and “loud”, respectively. Cristofori did this by changing the mechanism that causes the strings to vibrate. Whereas a harpsichord uses a plectrum to pluck its strings, Cristofori designed a system that uses a hammer that is pushed toward the string at first and then allowed to travel the rest of the way on its own momentum. This made the piano more responsive to the touch of the musician, since playing a note harder would result in a louder sound, and vice versa. Modern pianos, though they have evolved over...
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