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What causes unstable voicing?
#2125209 07/30/13 09:38 AM
Joined: Jul 2013
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JFK2 Offline OP
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Dear technician
I wonder if I can get some inside why a new piano
Seems to be unevenly voiced and can not
Keep the tune.
. I wonder if One should consider changing any
Parts such as hammers ... Would it fix it.

Thanks for your advise in advance

Last edited by mwallace; 07/30/13 09:40 AM.
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Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2125235 07/30/13 10:32 AM
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If as you state, it is in fact a new piano, then I would be reasonably sure in saying the most likely answer to your problems would be to get someone experienced in tuning and toning to work on your piano. New pianos can be extremely difficult to get to stay in tune unless the wrestpins are nicely set, and with new pianos generally having tight planks an inexperienced tuner will struggle. Voicing is normally done after tuning so that loose unisons don't confuse any toning issues.

Your piano will need time to settle down, but a really well trained and experienced tuner/technician should be able to shorten that time considerably.

As regards to needing new parts ..... why would a new piano need new parts ?


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2125436 07/30/13 05:40 PM
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The tuning on new pianos is often wild and the tone harsh - a bit 'in your face'. Getting to the bottom of the problems will usually involve a bit of regulating and voicing.
Buying a new piano, the customer has every right to expect these issues to be dealt with but you are by no means alone! Retailers tend to offer a free tuning, take your money and leave you alone.
Best to go back to the supplier and try to get them to sort it out!


Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2125738 07/31/13 08:13 AM
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What kind of piano?

Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2125757 07/31/13 09:31 AM
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A piano at the edge of good voicing is sensitive to moisture change, as the hammer felt may be harder or softer easily.

If the original voicing was not done enough (this is common) there is no much leeway - I often see pianos where the future packing of the hammers have not been taken in account and the tone at ppp is too hard.

the felts also need to pack by playing so the tone develops , is more precise, with more partials and a good attack.

Strings imprints help that, depending of the piano they densify the partial content.


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Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2127231 08/02/13 11:44 PM
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It could be said that a new piano is never worse than it is when new. A new piano needs to settle in. Tunings will hold longer as the strings stop stretching out. The tone will take shape as the piano is played in, and voicing touch ups are done. Touch up regulation fights action felt compression. These issues are why a new piano needs more frequent service in the first few years.



Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2127271 08/03/13 01:05 AM
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There is a related thread in the Piano Forum. It includes a particularly interesting post by Ed Foote.

"Opening Up" Piano Tone


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: What causes unstable voicing?
Bob #2127485 08/03/13 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob
It could be said that a new piano is never worse than it is when new. A new piano needs to settle in. Tunings will hold longer as the strings stop stretching out. The tone will take shape as the piano is played in, and voicing touch ups are done. Touch up regulation fights action felt compression. These issues are why a new piano needs more frequent service in the first few years.


That relates to the amount of stabilization allowed at the factory.

On first grade grands it was not unusual to have the pianos broken in at the factory (I heard that piano students where allowed to train on grand pianos at Bechstein, but it may be more or less true..

It also happen on the sales floor when a piano stay in the shop for 6-12 years, tuner, a little played.

In any case, regulation is done more than once on the normal course .

The piano is broken in with machione playing then regulated and voiced again.
All regulations are done 3 times on a good quality grand.

I have been very surprised to learn that the NY Steinways where not sold in that "ready to play" condition.
To give an example, the Hamburg ones are prepped to the point the string hook (to level unison) is not a tool in the bag of the concert technician. The job have been done to the point not a string a have to be leveled (in theory, of course).

All those operations take time, and cost, and the high quality is only noticed by real high level pianists, so I understand they are done minimally on cheaper instruments.

That gives some work to the good technician (if the customer can understand the situation)

It can be surprising, an instrument that is not enough preped is about 50% of its musicality, hence the desire sometime to "change the hammers" or modify the bridge.
As much as good hammers can help if the original ones are so so, this should not be necessary on a new piano.

But voicing is a specialty that takes time and good pianos, to learn , in absence of factory or good workshop training, so real voicers are the exception, and many pianos stay in a semi voiced condition.

There seem to be a tendency to look for hammers that need "no" voicing. In what I can hear it could be ideal but the FFF good quality (dense, at the edge of saturation) cannot be attained without voicing, as it is due to the dynamics of the zones immediately under the crown. more soft hammers gives a more linear dynamics and the FFF is generally very open but not concentrated enough for what I could hear.

Good for old soundboards probably.




Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: What causes unstable voicing?
JFK2 #2128629 08/05/13 07:42 PM
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New pianos have more tuning and string seating issues than voicing issues. Find a tuner who has experience with new pianos and expect to add a few extra tunings over the first year or two.

Changing parts only puts you back at the beginning of the process.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams

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