As your piano tuner Wilmington DE, I am frequently asked what type of piano maintenance is needed besides tuning. Usually any maintenance that a piano needs involves the “action.” The piano action is all the mechanical portion of the instrument, from the piano keys, up to the piano hammers which strike the strings. It also includes the dampers, which stop the piano strings from vibrating.

The most common type of maintenance that a vertical piano needs are two adjustments to the piano action, called “hammer blow regulation” and “lost motion regulation.” These are typically done every three to five years, and usually are both done at the same time.

There are ten major adjustments and numerous alignments for a piano action to work properly, but most of them stay in adjustment for a number of years. The hammer blow and lost motion are usually the only adjustments that change relatively quickly. The reason they change is due to compression of felt and buckskin pieces in the action.

When these pieces wear or get compressed, the piano action becomes less sensitive, so that it becomes difficult to play a beautiful line of music. The hammer blow is the distance that the hammer sits from the string when at rest. In most pianos, that distance is 1 3/4″. When felt gets compressed, that distance will increase, so that the keys require more force in order to get the hammers up to the string. The lost motion is similar, but in addition, it wears unevenly from note to note, so that the effort needed to play differs from note to note. This makes it even more difficult to play a beautiful line of music. The reason it wears unevenly is that some notes are played more frequently than others. The parts of the notes that are played more often get more compressed and worn.

Piano actions are designed to be adjusted, so that these problems can be corrected fairly easily by a trained piano technician. This is an additional reason for regular piano tuning, as the need for these adjustments can be monitored regularly so your piano will not get difficult to play. These parts wear so slowly that you will tend to adapt to the less sensitive action, and will not realize there is a problem. You simply will gradually find that your piano is less satisfying to play, and you will tend to play less often. It is important, then, to have a trained technician assess the condition of your piano action regularly.

If you have any other questions about pianos, please let us know. We are your Wilmington DE piano tuning experts. Kenneth Keith Piano Services also proudly provides expert piano services Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey and Eastern Shore Maryland.