As highlighted in our other articles, the key to extending the life of your piano is to maintain it. Maintenance does not only include humidity control, tuning, and voicing, but regulating the action of the strings as well. In this article we will talk about regulating the action of your piano, the methods of doing it, and why it’s important.
What is Action Regulation?
First, let’s define what the “action” of a piano is. The action of a piano is the motion that occurs when a key is pressed and the hammer then strikes the string.
The “regulation” part refers to the maintenance that has to be done on this mechanism to compensate for wear on parts and changes in humidity.
Why is Action Regulation Important?
Regulating the action of your piano is vital to its playability.
As parts wear down across the entire mechanism of the piano, they become looser as well. This looseness will create an effect known as “lost motion” where the feel of playing the piano will feel muddy.
Additionally, there may be a delay between the keypress and the note. This delay will become longer the more you go without regulating the action.
If any major changes in humidity occur, it is best to see how your piano plays and determine if you need to adjust it. Since wood expands and contracts based on humidity, your piano’s action can be greatly affected.
If neglected, a piano with bad action can become permanently damaged over time.
How Often Should I Regulate the Action of my Piano?
If you have just purchased a new piano, you will most likely need to have its action regulated after 6 to 12 months to compensate for the compacting of the felt hammer tips that strike the strings.
Afterwards, the rate at which you regulate the action depends on the amount of time you spend playing the piano daily. If you play your piano regularly, then it is best to regulate its action every 5 to 10 years. However, if you professionally play your piano, then an annual regulation would be much more beneficial.
Also, if possible, request that your piano technician regulates the action slightly for every tuning that you get. This could be more beneficial as complete, one-time regulations tend to be much more expensive than gradual ones.