As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, my clients often ask me what maintenance their piano needs. Most people realize that a piano needs regular tuning, but few piano owners realize that the mechanical part of the piano, the action, needs periodic maintenance, also. The piano action consists of all the moving elements of a piano, from the piano keys up to the hammers which strike the piano strings. The action is made primarily of wood, but there are numerous other materials, such as felt and buckskin, which are prone to wear. The tolerances on a piano action are so small, that any wear on these parts will decrease the sensitivity of touch of the instrument.

There are ten major adjustments per note on a piano, and three of those ten need adjustment every 3-5 years, in order to make up for the wear on various parts of the action.  On a vertical piano, the adjustment that is needed most frequently is called “lost motion.” It is termed “lost motion” because when it is out of adjustment it results in movement or “play” at the top of the key before the parts of the action are engaged.  This “play” is movement that is “lost”, hence the name.

The result is that the player needs to use more force than should be necessary to get the hammers up to the string. When this occurs, the player loses control over volume, especially on soft playing. If the lost motion is not removed over a period of years, the amount of play can get so great that the action does not complete properly when a key is struck. If the action does not complete, the result can be “bobbling” hammers. A “bobbling” piano hammer is one that strikes the strings multiple times, on a single strike of a key. A player plays a note once, and the hammer will strike two or three times in rapid succession, hence the term “bobbling.”

Our subsequent articles will explain the other two adjustments on vertical pianos and the most common adjustment for a grand piano.

If you have any questions about the maintenance of your piano, feel free to call us at Kenneth Keith Piano Services, your piano tuning Wilmington DE experts. We provide piano services in the areas of Philadelphia, So. New Jersey and Eastern Shore Maryland as well.