Also known as “Tone Regulation”, this is the process by which we assure that a piano produces consistently even and pleasing tones from note-to-note across the entire length of the keyboard. There are many misconceptions about what this entails and how it is accomplished. So without going into a protracted dissertation, which would probably make your eyes glaze over, I’ll try to explain it as simply and succinctly as I can. First off, there are a number of conditions prerequisite to achieving the desired effect described above: The hammers must move straight up and down as they travel toward the strings, the surface where they contact the strings must be smoothly crowned and level with the plane of the strings and must contact all of their targeted strings at exactly the same time, with the same force. Achieving this goal can be a tedious and time consuming endeavor but is absolutely necessary. One of my friends calls it “Voicing 101”. The last step is to manipulate the density of the hammer felt so that it will produce the broadest range of dynamics. To make a hammer harder and give it more power, we add mass to it in the form of liquid ‘Dope’ (preferably organic lacquer) which penetrates the felt and, when dry, has the effect of hardening the hammer. To make it softer and remove harshness – we insert needles into its surface which separate the felt fibers making it less dense. Then we go through the whole thing again, often several times, making minor adjustments to remove “hot spots” and even out the tone across the entire length of the scale.
There you have it in a nut shell. Sounds simple right? But what a difference it makes when done correctly!

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